An order from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to the owner of the APL England has been sent directing the company to clean up the remaining containers lost overboard last month.
The vessel lost 50 containers on 24 May and, according to AMSA, some 15 have been recovered, the remaining 35 have not, so far, been located. The direction from the Australian authorities orders the company to recover the remaining boxes as agreed with the authority.
Drift modelling and analysis of box sightings suggest that the containers are in an area between the Illawarra and Sydney’s southern suburbs, the search will cover an area of approximately 1,000km2, and in water up to 200m deep.
AMSA said that containers within the search area pose the most immediate environmental threat and may present a safety hazard for commercial fishers.
Mark Morrow, AMSA general manager response, said 15 containers had been recovered from the shoreline or towed in after being spotted floating off the coast, but 35 containers were still missing.
“The owner’s and operator’s responsibility to clean-up the mess left behind by their ship does not end at the water’s edge,” Morrow said, adding, “We have only just finished cleaning-up more than 60 containers and their contents from the seafloor off Newcastle after Yang Ming’s ship YM Efficiency lost containers back in June 2018.
“That is not a pollution legacy that any respectable ship owner or operator would want to leave behind in their wake.”
It is the expected that the owner will present a detailed search plan in the coming days.
Ominously Morrow said, “Failure to comply with this direction constitutes an offence under Australian law.”
Following the loss of the containers AMSA conducted an investigation of the accident and found that the vessel, which is classed by DNV GL, was suffering from a number of defects including the corrosion of lashing points.
The master of the vessel was arrested and was due to appear at Brisbane Magistrates Court on 12 June. There have been no reports on the proceedings so far.