Captain of APL England charged for container spill off NSW coast

Charges have been laid against the master of the APL England, which lost about 50 containers overboard off Sydney on Sunday. This is the result of work between AMSA, the Queensland Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution.

The offences relate to pollution and/or damage of the Australian marine environment as a result of poor cargo loading. Laying charges against the ship’s Master is not action we undertake lightly but 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.

The cargo load on the APL England was damaged during a high seas incident on May 24 that resulted in the brief loss of power on the ship and containers falling overboard. The number of containers that fell overboard has now been increased to 50 from the previous estimate of 40 containers lost overboard in addition to 74 containers that were damaged but remained aboard the APL England.

Today’s actions should not detract from the responsibility of the ship owner 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.

Australia inspectors, who boarded the ship after it docked in Brisbane, determined that the lashing arrangements for cargo were inadequate and found heavy corrosion on the securing points for containers on the ship’s deck.  As a result, the APL England was officially detained at the port and according to the local authorities will not be released until the serious deficiencies have been rectified.

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.

AMSA’s investigation is ongoing.

– AMSA Media

APL England container loss – Update 6, June 1, 2020.

The Master of the APL England appeared before the Wynnum Magistrates court today to face two charges relating to the loss of containers from the ship,

  • Section 26F of the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 – Discharging of garbage into the sea contrary to the Act
  • Section 141 of the Navigation Act 2012 – Master did not ensure that the vessel was operated in a manner that did not cause, pollution to the marine environment in the coastal sea of Australia or the exclusive economic zone of Australia and, damage to the marine environment in the coastal sea of Australia or the exclusive economic zone of Australia. These charges carry maximum penalties in excess of $300,000. 

The matter was adjourned to 12 June in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

The APL England remains under detention in the Port of Brisbane and will not be released until its serious deficiencies have been rectified.

The unloading of the damaged containers has started and is expected to take several days to complete.

AMSA’s investigation is ongoing.

Container search area APL England


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