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The APL England has been cleared to leave Australia after losing some 50 containers overboard off the coast of New South Wales last month.
Inspectors with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) boarded the vessel last week at the Port of Brisbane and were satisfied that the ship was fit to sail to China where it will undergo repairs. The ship departed Brisbane on June 19 without cargo and with a new Master.
The ship’s previous Master, who is facing multiple charges related to the incident, will be repatriated.
The Singapore-flagged APL England lost about 50 containers overboard and dozens more were damaged after the ship lost propulsion in heavy weather off the coast of Sydney on Sunday, May 24. The ship was able to restore power and arrived at the Port of Brisbane where it was put under detention.
A spokesperson for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said previously that the authority’s inspection of the ship had revealed that lashing arrangements for cargo were inadequate and securing points for containers on the deck of the ship were heavily corroded.
Prior to allowing the ship to sail, AMSA received a formal written undertaking from the ship’s insurer, Steamship Mutual, that it will pay fines and other costs amounting to $22.5 million that are agreed or imposed by a court in relation to AMSA’s costs in responding to the incident.
The AMSA reports that the APL England’s owner and insurer have been begun tendering for a sonar to search an area encompassing some 386 square miles where missing containers are believed to be located.
AMSA General Manager Response Mark Morrow last week said 15 containers had been recovered from the shoreline or towed in after being spotted floating off the coast, but 35 containers were still missing.
“While it is unfortunate that this incident occurred in the first place, the early response by the owners and their insurers has been welcomed,” said AMSA’s CEO Mick Kinley.
“The response to incidents like these don’t happen overnight, but this early commitment shows that the vessel’s owners and insurers intend to do what they can to ensure our seas remain safe and clean,” Kinley added.
APL England’s former Master, Captain Mohamad Zulkhaili Bin Alias, was charged earlier this month with two offenses related to discharging garbage into the sea and failure to ensure his vessel was operated in a safe manner. The charges carry maximum penalties in excess of $300,000.
The container cleanup comes on the heels of cleaning-up more than 60 from the seafloor off Newcastle after the Yang Ming ship ship YM Efficiency lost more than 80 containers overboard back in June 2018.
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