A Singapore-flagged containership APL England that lost at least 40 containers overboard off the coast of Sydney has been detained by authorities in the Port of Brisbane after Australian inspectors found inadequate lashing arrangements for cargo and heavily corroded securing points for containers on deck.
APL England had been en route from Ningbo, China to Melbourne on Sunday when it rerouted to Brisbane after a temporary propulsion loss left the 277-meter vessel rolling in heavy seas and caused several container stacks to topple over about 73 kilometers south east of Sydney. The ship's master said 40 containers were lost into the sea and 74 more were damaged on board.
The 5,510 TEU capacity APL England arrived Tuesday at the Port of Brisbane anchorage, where Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) surveyors boarded the vessel to ensure it was fit to be brought into port safety. Once cleared, the vessel was escorted into Moreton bay by two harbor tugs, a salvage response vessel, two Queensland water police vessels and a Maritime Safety Queensland pollution response vessel.
AMSA detained APL England on Wednesday night after its investigators discovered the cargo stowage deficiencies, and the agency said the ship will not be released until the issues are corrected. "These inspection findings are a clear breach of requirements under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)," AMSA said in a statement. "This is a now matter for the ship’s owner, American President Lines (APL), and the operator to rectify."
"All findings will form part of AMSA’s ongoing investigation and, while not to preempt the outcomes of the investigation, it is clear that the risk of container loss could have been reduced," the agency said.
Locating lost cargo
Meanwhile, surgical masks and contents from the container spill have been found washing up onto Australian shores as AMSA continues to provide drift modeling and work with NSW Maritime, the lead agency responding to the incident's shoreline impacts.
An aerial survey of the New South Wales coastline performed by AMSA on Wednesday identified two targets found to be five containers, including one set of four containers locked together.
AMSA said it expects the ship owner and its insurer to take full responsibility for addressing any impacts of this incident. "We have heard today the insurer is already engaging contractors to retrieve some of the floating containers," it said.