The vessel had been en route from Ningbo, China to Melbourne on May 24 when it rerouted to Brisbane after a temporary propulsion loss left the 277-metre vessel rolling in heavy seas and caused several container stacks to topple over about 73 kilometres south east of Sydney. The ship's master said 40 containers were lost into the sea and 74 more were damaged on board.
The 5,510 TEU capacity APL England arrived two days later at the Port of Brisbane anchorage, where Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) surveyors boarded the vessel to ensure it was fit to be brought into port safety. Once cleared, the vessel was escorted into Moreton Bay by two harbour tugs, a salvage response vessel, two Queensland water police vessels and a Maritime Safety Queensland pollution response vessel, according to MarineLink of New York.
AMSA detained APL England last Wednesday night after its investigators discovered the cargo stowage deficiencies, and the agency said the ship will not be released until the issues are corrected.
'These inspection findings are a clear breach of requirements under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS),' AMSA said in a statement. 'This is a now matter for the ship's owner, American President Lines (APL), and the operator to rectify.'
'All findings will form part of AMSA's ongoing investigation and, while not to preempt the outcomes of the investigation, it is clear that the risk of container loss could have been reduced,' the agency said.
Meanwhile, surgical masks and contents from the container spill have been found washing up onto Australian shores. An aerial survey of the New South Wales coastline performed by AMSA identified two targets found to be five containers, including one set of four containers locked together.
AMSA said it expects the ship owner and its insurer to take full responsibility for addressing any impacts of this incident. 'We have heard today the insurer is already engaging contractors to retrieve some of the floating containers,' it said.