The APL England, a 5,780 TEU capacity containership which lost around 40 containers off the coast of New South Wales in Australia has been detained in Brisbane by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) since the 26th May..
The ship was detained on the basis of preliminary investigations which found that the lashing arrangement for the cargo was inadequate and that some of the securing points for containers on deck were heavily corroded which cause the stack collapse and loss of containers at sea..
These findings were found to be in breach of the requirements of SOLAS (The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Seas) necessitating the detention of the ship in the Port of Brisbane till the serious deficiencies were fixed by the ship’s owner APL and the vessel operator..
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the Queensland Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution also laid charges against the Master (Captain) of the ship for offences relating to pollution and/or damage of the Australian marine environment as a result of poor cargo loading..
The Master, a Malaysian national was subsequently permitted to return home after payment of $60,000 as deposit and under new bail conditions which required him to return to Australia as and when summoned by the court..
The APL England has been discharging all the containers in Brisbane.. After AMSA inspectors were satisfied that the ship was fit to sail, the empty APL England was released on 19th of June and allowed to sail from Australia to undertake repairs in China..
The release order was issued after AMSA received a formal written undertaking from the ship’s insurer, Steamship Mutual, that it will pay fines and other amounts that are agreed or imposed by a court in relation to AMSA’s costs in responding to the incident.. This commitment is said to amount up to $22.5 million..
Previously, AMSA had issued a direction ordering the owner of APL England to search for missing containers that were lost from the vessel based on the identification of a search area of about 1000km2 stretching between the Illawarra and Sydney’s southern suburbs..
AMSA reported that they have received advice from the owners and insurers that they are in the early stages of tendering for a sonar search of the search area..
Containers within the search area are said to pose the most immediate environmental threat and a safety hazard for commercial fishermen..
As per AMSA General Manager Response Mark Morrow, as of 15th June, 15 containers were 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,” Mr Morrow said.
“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.” added Mr.Morrow..
“That is not a pollution legacy that any respectable ship owner or operator would want to leave behind in their wake.”