The incident with the APL England happened just after 6.10am AEST on Sunday 24 May when the ship experienced a temporary loss of propulsion during heavy seas about 73 km south east of Sydney.
At the time, the ship was on a journey 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 two kilometres deep.
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.
Update: 26th May
AMSA boarded the Singapore-flagged container ship APL England at the Port of Brisbane anchorage (off Port Cartwright) this morning following an incident involving the loss of about 40 containers overboard during heavy seas off Sydney on Sunday.
AMSA said in a press release “Our team of surveyors conducted a seaworthiness inspection to establish the structural and operational condition of the ship following the collapse of container stacks on the deck.
The outcome of this inspection will help inform if, and how, the ship might be brought safely into the Port of Brisbane in conjunction with Maritime Safety Queensland.
While it is still unclear exactly which containers have fallen overboard, initial indications are that the affected stacks contained a wide range of goods like household appliances, building materials and medical supplies.
No dangerous goods appear to be in cargo in the affected areas and we are working closely with the ship’s cargo agent to confirm exactly which containers went overboard.
We expect to have the outcome of today’s seaworthiness inspection and confirmation of the next steps by tomorrow morning.
Once the ship is safely in port we will begin our investigation which will focus on the safety of the ship including whether cargo was appropriately stacked and secured on board the ship, and any potential breaches of environmental pollution regulations.
We have received a report of some medical supplies (for example, face masks) washing up between Magenta Beach and The Entrance. This information has been passed on to NSW Maritime. These correlate to drift modelling of debris and are consistent with items listed on the ship’s cargo manifest.”
Update: 27 May
AMSA surveyors conducted an inspection of the ship at the Port of Brisbane anchorage (off Port Cartwright) on Tuesday, 26 May to establish the structural and operational condition of the ship.
The ship was found to be fit to be brought safely into the Port of Brisbane earlier today by Maritime Safety Queensland and the Brisbane Harbour Master.
The vessel was escorted into Moreton bay by two harbour tugs, one container salvage response vessel, two Queensland water police vessels and a Maritime Safety Queensland pollution response vessel. It arrived safely in port at midday.
AMSA is investigating the ship on two fronts
Compliance with safety standards
This is a foreign-flagged ship in Australian waters so it will be checked for compliance with both Australian and international maritime safety standards.
An outcome of this inspection will be available 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.
Australian environmental protection regulations and or standards
Establish if the ship has breached any Australian environmental protection regulations and or standards that apply to the safe and secure carriage of cargo.
The first phase of that investigation is expected to take at least a month and may take longer.
Subject to the outcome, legal action could be taken by AMSA against various parties including the ship’s owner and others.
We are continuing to provide drift modeling and working with NSW Maritime—the lead agency responding to shoreline impacts of the container spill.