Australia Tackles Lost Containers at Sea with Targeted Safety Campaign

Mike Schuler
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July 24, 2020

Photo: AMSA

Australia has launched a safety campaign targeting cargo securing arrangements on board containerships after spate of recent lost container incidents off the country’s shores.

The inspection campaign was launched this week by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority after incidents like the loss of 81 containers off Newcastle by the YM Efficiency in 2018. More recently, the APL England lost some 50 containers off Wollongong in May and while the Navios Unite lost three containers off Cape Leeuwin in June.

AMSA said in statement that the events have affected the livelihoods and safety of commercial fishers and, more broadly, communities across Australia.

Incident investigations by AMSA so far have revealed that the improper stacking and securing of cargo and poor maintenance of securing equipment are likely to have been contributing factors to the incidents.

“We have seen the serious consequence of improper cargo securing arrangements in the form of tonnes plastics and other debris washing up on our beautiful beaches and floating in our oceans,” said AMSA Acting General Manager of Operations Michael Drake.

“Rusted cargo securing points, improper lashings and exceeding stack weight limits have all contributed to these incidents and ship operators should be on notice that non-compliance will not be tolerated in Australia,” Drake added.

Vessels visiting Australia must ensure they fully comply with the international standards relating to cargo securing laid out in Chapter VI of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.

The targeted inspection campaign will run from the beginning of August until the end of October and will involve both extended port State control (PSC) inspections and stand-alone inspections on vessels which are not currently eligible for PSC inspection, the AMSA said. Vessels calling in Australia during this period should expect a visit from AMSA inspectors as part of the campaign.

For vessels found to be non-compliant, AMSA will take steps to bring the ship into compliance before it is able to continue operating. The agency is encouraging ship owners and masters to familiarize themselves with the approved cargo securing manual for their vessel and Marine order 42 which gives effect to Chapter VI of SOLAS in Australia.

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