The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has initiated a focused inspection campaign targeting cargo securing arrangements on container ships visiting Australian ports in response to several recent serious incidents involving shipping containers lost overboard.
These incidents include the losses of 81 containers off Newcastle by the YM Efficiency in 2018, 50 containers off Wollongong by the APL England in May 2020 and three containers from the Navios Unite off Cape Leeuwin in June.
All of the above has caused significant environmental damage Australia’s marine and coastal environment, effecting the livelihoods and safety of commercial fishers and communities across Australia.
AMSA discovered that the improper stacking and securing of cargo and poor maintenance of securing equipment are likely to have been contributing factors to these incidents.
Michael Drake, AMSA’s acting general manager of operations, said: “We have seen the serious consequence of improper cargo securing arrangements in the form of tonnes of plastics and other debris washing up on our beautiful beaches and floating in our oceans.
“Rusted cargo securing points, improper lashings and exceeding stack weight limits have all contributed to these incidents and ship operators should be on notice that non-compliance will not be tolerated in Australia.”
As such, Drake has said that vessels visiting Australia must ensure that they are fully compliant with the International standards relating to cargo securing laid out in Chapter VI of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention.
The focused inspection campaign will run from the beginning of August until the end of October, involving both extended port State control (PSC) inspections and stand-alone inspections on vessels which are not currently eligible for PSC inspection.
Where vessels are found to be non-compliant, AMSA will take steps to bring the ship into compliance before it is able to continue operating.
The overall aim of the focused inspection campaign is to educate, improve standards and to ultimately reduce the number of incidents of that result in cargo being lost at sea.