Australia authorities have brought charges against the captain of the APL England and took actions to ensure that the owners and operators would take financial responsibility for the damages resulting from the containers that fell off the ship in the waters south of Sydney, Australia.
These actions came just one day after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) announced that they were detaining the APL England after having found deficiencies that they believed contributed to the accident.
The captain of the APL England is being charged with offenses related to pollution and/or damage of the Australian marine environment as a result of poor cargo loading. AMSA is also seeking $22 million in financial security from the ship’s insurers to cover the estimated cost of the remediation and cleanup.
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.
“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,” said Allan Schwartz, AMSA General Manager Operations.
In addition to bringing charges against the captain, AMSA also took additional steps to ensure that the owner, APL Singapore, operator, ANL, and its insurer, Steamship Mutual, would take responsibility for the remediation efforts.
“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,” said Schwartz.
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.
“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,” concluded Schwartz.
In the past, AMSA has taken aggressive actions against other shipping companies. In 2018, the container ship YM Efficiency lost 81 containers overboard in a similar incident near Newcastle, Australia. The retrieval of those containers was recently completed while AMSA is continuing efforts to recover the costs associated with the clean-up from the vessel’s owner Yang Ming and it’s insurers Britannia P&I.