9 June 2020

Shipping debris from APL England spotted off Glasshouse Rocks

| Genevieve Jacobs
Start the conversation
Debris from APL England

Debris from APL England has been washing up along the NSW coast. Photo: NSW Maritime Facebook.

Shipping debris from the APL England cargo ship has been spotted in the waters off Narooma as the consequences of a major cargo spill continue to unfold along the NSW coast.

The ship was en route from China to Melbourne on 24 May when it hit rough seas, causing a major cargo spill 73 km from Sydney. Debris and the remains of at least 50 shipping containers have been strewn along the Central Coast after container stacks collapsed when the ship rolled heavily.

Five containers washed up at Birdie Beach in Munmorah Conservation Park and were salvaged, another five containers hit rocks at Bateau Bay, while further containers were found floating off Norah Head, Terrigal and in the Hawkesbury River. More debris has also been reported at Jervis Bay.

Now there are reports that one of the containers was seen off Glasshouse Rocks at Narooma on Monday (8 June). The sighting took place between Montague Island and the mainland and is believed to be one of 26 empty refrigeration containers being kept afloat by its insulation material.

Map of debris location

One refrigeration container has been seen between Montague Island and the mainland. Image: NSW Maritime Facebook

Marine Rescue radio broadcasts have been increased, warning mariners to navigate with caution as the container is floating just under the water’s surface and is very hard to see. It’s possible the container will come ashore over the next 24 hours further south along the coast.

Debris from the 50 containers includes medical equipment and facemasks, foam, food packaging, and ducting material commonly used in heating and cooling systems.

The ship, which is flagged in Singapore, is currently docked in Brisbane where charges have been laid by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) relating to pollution and damage to the Australian marine environment as a result of poor cargo loadings.

The agency says the ship had inadequate lashing arrangements for cargo and securing points for containers on deck were heavily corroded.

AMSA General Manager of Operations Allan Schwartz said the decision to lay charges against the ship’s Master was not undertaken lightly.

“This and other incidents remind us of the important role the ship’s Master has in ensuring that the ships that ply our waters are operated safely and do not damage our marine environment,” he said.

The ship is owned by APL Singapore and operated by ANL, both of whom are accountable for remediating any damage from the incident. AMSA is seeking $22 million in financial security from the insurers to cover the estimated costs of a clean-up, and the ship’s deficiencies must be rectified before it’s released from port.

AMSA says that the impacts of this incident could take months, if not years, to remediate. It’s believed that a total of 16 missing containers have been retrieved, although an operation to tow one container from Norah Head to Newcastle went adrift when it was lost at sea during the operation.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.