Containers Overboard off NSW Coast

A container ship that lost 40 containers overboard on Sunday is heading to Brisbane with damaged containers hanging overboard.

Container ship APL England off Byron Bay last night. Image from AMSA aircraft.

The APL England was en route to Melbourne from Ningbo, China to Melbourne when it lost power and floundered in heavy seas south east of Sydney.

The ship’s skipper said 74 containers were collapsed on the deck of the ship, while six more protrude from starboard side and three from the port side of the ship.

The incident happened just after 6.10am AEST yesterday (Sunday 24 May 2020) when the ship experienced a temporary loss of propulsion when about 73 kilometres south east of Sydney.

The power loss lasted only a few minutes but began rolling heavily. Container stacks  collapsed and 40 of them fell overboard into water 2km deep.

The ship has turned around to avoid further progress into deep swells, and is now heading toward Brisbane, Queensland. It was off Byron Bay last night. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will inspect the ship upon arrival.

AMSA’s Challenger jet is searching for containers and debris in the water and inspected the ship for damage or pollution. Some containers were spotted in the water however efforts were hampered by bad weather and poor visibility. The ship has not reported any damage to the hull.

AMSA is conducting extensive drift modelling today and working with New South Wales Maritime about potential shoreline impacts and Maritime Safety Queensland around potential use of Brisbane Port. Initial modelling from last night suggested that if there was any floating containers or debris it would likely wash up to the north of Sydney.

At this stage no sightings of containers or debris along the shoreline have been reported and more extensive drift modelling will be conducted today factoring in the Challenger’s observations in better weather.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been notified and has confirmed it will investigate the incident.

This is not the first incident involving container losses from the APL England.

The APL England previously lost 37 containers in the Great Australian Bight in August 2016 due to heavy rolling in rough seas. The vessel was under different management at that time.