APL England Docks While Australia Investigates Container Loss

APL England docking in Brisbane - courtesy Port of Brisbane

Published May 27, 2020 1:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

Australian authorities permitted the APL England to proceed to dock in the Port of Brisbane after a safety investigation established the structural and operational condition of the ship. The vessel had been involved in a heavy seas incident southeast of Sydney on May 24 that resulted in damage to its container load with approximately 40 containers being lost overboard.

Surveyors from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) boarded the APL England after the vessel arrived in the anchorage off Port Cartwright on May 26. They determined that the ship was fit and that the load was secure to permit the ship to proceed to dock.

The APL England was escorted into Moreton Bay by two harbor tugs, one container salvage response vessel, two Queensland water police vessels, and a Maritime Safety Queensland pollution response vessel. Maritime Safety Queensland and the Brisbane Harbour Master supervised the docking procedure.

AMSA is continuing to provide drift modeling and working with NSW Maritime, which is the lead agency responding to the shoreline impact resulting from the container spill. Members of the public who discover any suspected debris or shipping containers on the beaches are being asked to report the information to the NSW Maritime Info Line. Local media has already reported that items have come ashore including medical face masks that were in one of the damaged containers.

According to AMSA General Manager Operations Allan Schwartz, they will now conduct their investigation checking for compliance with both Australian and international maritime safety standards. In addition, AMSA will review if the ship breached any Australian environmental protection regulations or standards that apply to the safe and secure carriage of cargo. 

“We expect to have an outcome of this inspection in a matter of days which will include any breaches of those safety standards and any measures the ship will need to take to rectify those deficiencies,” said Schwartz. The investigation is expected to take at least a month and Schwartz concluded, “Subject to the outcome, legal action could be taken by AMSA against various parties including the ship's owner and others.”

AMSA is currently pursuing actions against Yang Ming, the owners of the container ship YM Efficiency, and its insurers Britannia P&I, related to a similar incident in June 2018 that resulted in 81 containers being lost overboard near Newcastle, Australia. AMSA contends that it was Yang Ming’s responsibility to remove the containers from the seafloor and when Yang Ming did not proceed with a clean-up AMSA started the recovery operations in April 2020 that resulted in 63 containers and 720 tons of waste being retrieved. AMSA is continuing efforts to recover all costs associated with the clean-up from Yang Ming and Britannia P&I.