The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) says that at about 10.45 am AEST, Sunday, May 24, it received notification that a containership had lost cargo overboard off the coast of New South Wales.
The incident happened just after 6.10 am AEST yesterday when the ship, the Singapore-flagged APL England, experienced a temporary loss of propulsion during heavy seas about 73 kilometers south east of Sydney.
At the time, the ship was en route from Ningbo, China to Melbourne, Australia.
The ship’s power was restored within a few minutes but during this time the ship reported that it was rolling heavily, causing container stacks to collapse and 40 containers to fall overboard in waters about 2 km deep.
AMSA says that the Master of the APL England has reported that an additional 74 containers have been damaged and remain collapsed on the deck of the ship, while a further six containers are reported to be protruding from starboard side and three containers from the port side of the ship.
AMSA said yesterday that the ship had turned around and is now heading toward Brisbane, Queensland and that it would be inspecting the ship, once the destination Port has been confirmed, upon its arrival.
AMSA’s Challenger jet was tasked to look for containers and debris in the water and inspect the ship for any signs of damage or pollution. Some containers were spotted in the water however efforts were hampered by bad weather and poor visibility. The ship has not reported any damage to the hull.
AMSA has been conducting extensive drift modeling and working with New South Wales Maritime about potential shoreline impacts and Maritime Safety Queensland around potential use of Brisbane Port. Initial modeling suggested that any floating containers or debris it would likely wash up to the north of Sydney.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been notified and has confirmed it will investigate the incident.
This is not the first incident involving container losses from the APL England, notes AMSA. The APL England previously lost 37 containers in the Great Australian Bight in August 2016 due to heavy rolling in rough seas. While the vessel was under totally different management at that time, AMSA says this is another example of the need for crews and operators to ensure cargo is carried, and ships are operated, to prevent this sort of pollution of the marine environment.”