Charges relating to pollution of the environment as a result of poor cargo loading have been raised against the master of the APL England as a result of last week’s container losses off the coast of Australia.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the charges have come as a result of the co-ordinated work between AMSA, Queensland Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions who investigated the loss of what is now estimated as around 50 boxes off the coast of Sydney, NSW, on 24 May, following a temporary loss of power.
“Laying charges against the ship’s Master is not action we undertake lightly, but this and other incidents remind us of the important role the ship’s Master has in ensuring the ships that ply our waters are operated safely and do not damage our marine environment.”
Inspections of the ship has found that the cargo lashing points for securing deck cargo were “heavily corroded” and that “These inspection findings are a clear breach of requirements under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).”
AMSA added that charges against the master should not be seen as diminishing the responsibility that ship owner APL Singapore, insurer Steamship Mutual, and operator ANL bare for the accident, and “who remain accountable for remediation” for the impact on the environment and livelihoods of those in the region.
“We welcome ANL taking responsibility by engaging contractors to undertake shoreline clean-up and retrieve some of the floating containers this week, but the impacts of this incident could take months, if not years to remediate and we expect these efforts to be sustained for however long it takes,” warned AMSA.
APL England remains under detention at the Port of Brisbane and AMSA said it will not be released until its serious deficiencies have been rectified.
“As of today, AMSA has placed an additional requirement on the owner of the ship under the Protection of the Seas Act which must be met before the ship will be released from detention,” said the maritime authority.
AMSA is continuing the search for containers lost from APL England using its Challenger aircraft to identify and locate semi-submerged boxes.