APL England cargo ship at risk of losing more containers off NSW

A cargo ship which lost at least 40 containers overboard in heavy seas near Sydney had a previous accident in the Great Australian Bight four years ago. It comes as nine more containers balance precariously on the ship.

A cargo ship from China that lost dozens of containers overboard off the coast of Sydney had lost more containers off Australia in a prior incident four years ago, prompting a stern rebuke from maritime authorities.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority was notified the APL England lost 40 containers when its propulsion system temporarily failed and it rolled in rough seas about 70km southeast of Sydney while travelling from China to Melbourne on Sunday.

It is expected if there are any floating containers or debris they would likely wash up on the shoreline to the north of Sydney.

An AMSA spokesman said on Monday the Singapore-flagged APL England also lost 37 containers in the Great Australian Bight due to heavy rolling in rough seas in August 2016.

“This is not the first incident,” the spokesman said.

“While the vessel was under totally different management at that time, this is another example of the need for crews and operators to ensure cargo is carried, and ships are operated, to prevent this sort of pollution of the marine environment.”

At least 74 containers have been damaged, collapsed on the ship’s deck. Picture: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
At least 74 containers have been damaged, collapsed on the ship’s deck.
The ship is now heading to Brisbane for inspection. Picture: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
The ship is now heading to Brisbane for inspection.

Crew on-board APL England have told Australian authorities at least 74 containers have been damaged and remain collapsed on the deck of the ship, while another nine are protruding from each sides of the vessel.

Dramatic photos taken by AMSA aircraft show some of the containers precariously dangling from the side of the ship over water.

The ship has turned around and is now heading to Brisbane, where AMSA crews will inspect the vessel.

AMSA aircraft spotted some containers in the water on Monday but bad weather and poor visibility hampered the search.

The big swell at Bronte beach this morning. Picture: David Swift
The big swell at Bronte beach this morning.
The big swell at Bronte beach this morning. Picture: David Swift
The big swell at Bronte beach this morning.
The big swell at Bronte beach this morning. Picture: David Swift
The big swell at Bronte beach this morning.

The maritime authority is conducting drift modelling and said if there is any floating containers they will likely wash up on shore to the north of Sydney.“

Initially modelling from last night suggested that if there was any floating containers or debris it would likely wash up to the north of Sydney,” the AMSA spokesman said.

“At this stage, no sightings of containers or debris along the shoreline have been reported and more extensive drift modelling will be conducted.”

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will investigate the incident.

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