As reported, the APL England, a 5,780 TEU capacity containership lost around 40 containers off the coast of New South Wales in Australia with around 74 containers lying in a collapsed state within the stacks on board the ship..
The APL England was on its routine A3N ANL service between Asia and Oceania (China to Melbourne) when it is said to have rolled in heavy weather, losing the containers overboard..
AMSA surveyors conducted an inspection of the ship at the Port of Brisbane anchorage (off Port Cartwright) on 26th May to establish the structural and operational condition of the ship..
The ship was subsequently declared to be fit to be brought safely into the Port of Brisbane and was arrived safely at the port and has been in berth since the 26th of May..
As per AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority), the investigation into this incident will cover two main issues –
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.
It has been reported that although the inspections are still continuing, it has already been found that the lashing arrangement for the cargo was inadequate and that some of the securing points for containers on deck were heavily corroded..
These findings are clearly in breach of the requirements of SOLAS (The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Seas) and as a consequence, the ship has been detained in the Port of Brisbane by AMSA and it is understood that this detention will be lifted only after these serious deficiencies have been fixed by the ship’s owner APL and the vessel operator..
From the findings thus far, it has become clear that the risk of container loss could have been reduced if the proper compliance requirements were followed and AMSA is expecting that the shipowner and its insurer will take full responsibility for addressing any impacts of this incident..
As per experts, in such cases, the responsibility could rest on the flag state – in this case, Singapore, who issues the ISM Document of Compliance and Safety Management Certificate and the company that these documents were issued to..
The flag state is required by UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) to ensure that the ships that fly their flags have taken all required measures to ensure the safety at sea both of the cargo and the crew..
Charges against the Master
Charges have been laid against the Master (Captain) of the APL England relating to pollution and/or damage of the Australian marine environment due to this incident..
As per Allan Schwartz, the General Manager Operations of AMSA, “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.
“Today’s actions should not detract from the responsibility of the shipowner APL Singapore, insurer Steamship Mutual, and operator ANL who remain accountable for remediation of any impacts of this incident.
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.
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.
This action seeks financial security from the insurers in the order of $22 million. This provides a commitment that they will remediate all impacts of this incident. That $22 million covers estimated costs including that of a clean-up.” he added..
In the meantime, AMSA’s Challenger jet is continuing its aerial survey of the New South Wales coastline to try and locate and identify semi-submerged containers in the water which could be salvaged still, especially a set of four containers still locked together..
Below is the planned search area as shown in this image from AMSA