The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) was quoted in media reports that the incident occurred early May 24 when the ship experienced a temporary loss of propulsion during heavy seas about 73 kilometres southeast of Sydney. The ship's power was quickly restored, but during that time the ship reported that it was rolling heavily, causing container stacks to collapse.
The master of the APL England reported that 40 containers fell overboard due to the rolling. Six additional containers were also protruding from the starboard side of the vessel and three containers were overhanging from the port side of the vessel. An additional 74 containers have been damaged but remained on the ship.
The APL England was en route from Ningbo, China to Melbourne, Australia. Built in 2001, the vessel has a total carry capacity of 5,510 TEU. The ship has not reported any damage to its hull, but the APL England sailed to Brisbane, Australia, where it anchored around midnight local time. It will be inspected by AMSA before being permitted to sail.
AMSA is also inspecting by air the area around the accident looking for containers and debris in the water as well as pollution from the ship. Some containers were spotted in the water during an initial inspection that was hampered by bad weather and poor visibility. Further air investigations are ongoing.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has also been notified and has confirmed it will also investigate the incident.
Accidents of this nature happen frequently with some studies reporting hundreds or even thousands containers going overboard each year threatening marine life and posing a danger to navigation.
According to the Australian authorities, the APL England previously lost 37 containers in the Great Australian Bight in August 2016 due to heavy rolling in rough seas.
Two years ago, in June 2018, the Taiwanese-owned container ship YM Efficiency lost 81 containers overboard near Newcastle, Australia after that vessel also reported a loss of main engine power during heavy seas leading to heavy rolling and a collapse of containers stacks, reports The Maritime Executive, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.