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APL vessel loses over 40 boxes off New South Wales coast

At least forty containers overboard from the Singapore-flagged container ship APL England have been lost off the New South Wales coastline on 24 May.

According to Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the 5,780TEU boxship was on a journey from Ningbo in China to Melbourne in Australia when it experienced a temporary loss of propulsion, which led to the container fall. The accident occurred during heavy seas about 73km south east of Sydney.

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 2km deep.

APL England has turned around and is now heading toward Brisbane, Queensland. AMSA will be inspecting the ship on its arrival, once the destination port has been confirmed.

The Master of the vessel has reported, "an additional 74 containers have been damaged and remain collapsed on the deck of the ship." At the same time, a further six containers are reported to be protruding from the starboard side and three containers from the port side of the ship. However, APL England has not reported any damage to the hull, according to AMSA.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been notified and has confirmed it will investigate the incident.

AMSA’s Challenger jet was tasked overnight to look for containers and debris in the water and inspect the ship for any signs of damage or pollution. Some containers were spotted in the water, however salvage efforts were hampered by bad weather and poor visibility.

AMSA is working with New South Wales Maritime about potential shoreline impacts and Maritime Safety Queensland around the potential use of Brisbane Port. Initial modelling from last night suggested that if there was any floating containers or debris it would likely wash up to the north of Sydney. However, at this stage no sightings of containers or debris along the shoreline have been reported.

This is not the first incident involving container losses from the APL England. The 2001-built container vessel previously lost 37 containers in the Great Australian Bight in August 2016 due to heavy rolling in rough seas.

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