The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has charged the master of the APL England, which lost about 50 containers overboard off Sydney on Sunday, of offences related to pollution and/or damage to the Australian marine environment.
AMSA’s ongoing inspection of the Singapore-flagged ship revealed that lashing arrangements for cargo were inadequate and securing points for containers on the deck of the ship were heavily corroded.
Allan Schwartz, AMSA general manager of operations, said: “These findings will form part of AMSA’s ongoing investigation and, while we do not want to pre-empt the outcomes of that investigation, it is already clear that the risk of the container loss occurring could have been reduced.”
It is still unclear exactly which containers had fallen aboard, although initial indications were that the affected stacks contained a wide range of goods like household appliances, building materials and medical supplies.
Schwartz said: “We have received a report of some medical supplies (face masks) washing up between Magenta Beach and The Entrance.
“This information has been passed onto NSW Maritime. These correlate to drift modelling of debris and are consistent with items listed on the ship’s cargo manifest.”
An aerial survey of the New South Wales (NSW) coastline to assist in locating and identifying semi-submerged was conducted by AMSA’s Challenger search jet.
The flight identified two targets which have been assessed as comprising of five containers (including one set of four containers locked together).
The ship’s operator, ANL, has taken responsibility by engaging contractors to undertake shoreline clean-up and retrieve some of the floating containers during the week.
However, Schwartz noted, that the impacts of this incident could take months, if not years to remediate and AMSA expects these efforts to be sustained for however long it takes.
The ship was detained by the authority on Thursday May 28, and it remains under detention in the Port of Brisbane and will not be released until its serious deficiencies have been rectified.
AMSA has placed an additional requirement on the owner of the ship under the Protection of the Seas Act that must be met before the ship will be released.
This action seeks financial security from the insurers in the order of AU$22m (US$14.6m), which covers the estimated costs including that of a clean-up.