Master of APL England charged and company fined $22 million for overboard containers

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

On Friday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) laid charges against the Master of the APL England, that lost 50 containers overboard last Sunday.

"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 from the AMSA.

The APL England with loose containers at the stern and amidships

APL has paid for contractors to assist NSW Maritime in retrieving the lost containers, which continue to be found across the NSW coastline.

“We welcome APL 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.”

The APL England remains under detention in the Port of Brisbane until the AMSA receives $22 million in financial security.

“This action...provides a commitment that they will remediate all impacts of this incident. That $22 million covers estimated costs including that of a clean-up.”

Debris from the incident have now been found from Wollongong to Port Stephens. So far only 15 of the 50 containers have been accounted for. On the weekend a tug boat towed several containers into the mouth of the Hawkesbury River to be lifted out by crane.


zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Monday, 1 Jun 2020 at 10:43am

Was it carrying container loads of Hot-pants?

Anyway, to not make light of the subject, it's good to see someone being held accountable. Sadly, I don't see too many lessons being learnt in the industry as a whole.

1173's picture's picture commented Monday, 1 Jun 2020 at 2:53pm

Everything we buy that isn’t produced locally comes Off one of these ships..

200nM of the Australian coast is anyone’s game. Good luck if you find one with your keel..

22million is nothing compared to pollution this guy and company have created..


velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 1 Jun 2020 at 5:22pm

Just in case the hot pants container washes up near you, Zen:

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 1 Jun 2020 at 5:48pm

AMSA have published a map showing the latest sightings.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 1 Jun 2020 at 6:19pm

Let's keep vigilant, we might find the SS Waratah!

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Monday, 1 Jun 2020 at 9:25pm

Ha. Live at south coogee, containers wash up at Malabar, holiday house at Norah head, containers wash up at birdie island. This week, on hols, what are the odds? Munmorah National Park closed. Fark me, struggling to take a break. Haven't surfed for 3 months, eastern suburbs beaches closed due to covid.

Wednesday, that is likely my first surf in ages.

1973bro's picture
1973bro's picture
1973bro commented Tuesday, 2 Jun 2020 at 10:14am

Can someone enlighten me why containers are loaded facing fore/aft, as opposed to port/starboard orientation?
Surely they'd be less prone to falling overboard if loaded that way in rough seas when the ship rocks from side to side?
Must have something to do with the bulkhead support placement within the ships structure, &/or loading/unloading efficiency, but aside from that, it seems like a no-brainer to me.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 2 Jun 2020 at 4:42pm

1973bro asks a logical Question & deserves a better answer than this one.

In times past with more flexible manual labour & with end of Pier cargo.
Both Trains & Ships positioned a lot of manual crosswise cargo. (Human Instinct)
Today the forklift is common across all loading hubs and decides the approach.
Barrels sat crosswise on transit but now Forklifts carry 8 upright or lengthwise.
Therefore all Vans, Trailers, Trucks, Trains carry Barrels upright or lengthwise.

The whole world's Transit, transits itself in every weird combo lengthwise.
Cars / Trucks / Trains / Boats / Planes travel lengthwise on any Train, Ship or Plane .

Today's bigger Ships need full (lengthwise) port-side support or it would destroy it!.
Crane slides Lengthwise containers perfectly onto parallel Rail-line or Truck-Lanes.
Economically the safest transfer.

Crosswise loading requires past Ship Docking at end of pier with on deck scurry.
Least economic + highly dangerous.
Likewise Trucks can't 3 point turn nor Trains double track
Cranes aren't at every Port so Container Stacking needs to suit 'Forklift /Cranes'.

For argument sake...let's say you had a Turntable Port allowing all loading?
What loading pattern would dictate for Shipping or Rail / Truck / Plane

(Main Thrust) Forward < > Rear wave motion constantly 'cradles' crosswise loads.
The motion distorts ship's power. (Stalling into, then rushing the back of each wave.
The captain's loss of control worsens as seas rise & Ship burns thru more fuel.
Crosswise is perfectly fine for rivers / Lakes, if Port accommodates crosswise loading.
Offset / alternate Historic sites may necessitate crosswise loading on/off Ship.

Shipping (Cross weave)
This is considered the safest loading for at sea Ships. (But!)
For this method to work each container must be of equal weight for control of Ship.
One must calculate the cross weight of independent containers...(Can be Done)
But the effort & time needed is not economic.(Crane adjusting to odd weights etc!)

Back to the beginning...the lengthwise is universal for port transit logistics.
But all ocean goers see that it makes a mess in cross swell & Wild Seas
Oz wharfies say it needn't be this way if you stack the weight to a set formula.

Trucks...tbb must to talk about trucks...Why?
Well they go so fast with such heavy loads & deliver loads on Wayward slip sites.
Pallets of Bricks are similar to (Cross weave containers).
We know this cross weave loading seemingly survives steep uneven sites.
tbb worked on many sites...Brickies still need to stand back when untying straps.
So! Evenly weighted loads seem safe but not always.
Basically if a strap broke on a cross weave equal weight container load...Stand Back.
Now, see why tbb mentioned the trucks...
The weight must be balanced in a cross weave...not just appear that way by eye.
Come as no surprise to release straps and see Containers fall off each side at once.
Deep visual is needed to assess core integrity in a weave load of great size...
Otherwise it's purely guesswork as to who dies next! (Looks can be deceiving).

Rail as we all know is now length wise or vert and tips off the rails on curves...
But rail must marry the same Forklift transit as well as portion load for mining.

Planes companion Warehouse loading which is surprisingly just cube stacking.
Either 2 rails with equal size of Webbed cargo cubes.
In the cabin ...Cube boxes fit perfectly to max out entire seating with Web strapping.
Usually 2 isles are left to attend all in flight cargo ..(1-2m above loading is kept free)
tbb thinks there must be a set min cabin or cargo hold air pressure.

tbb is no expert but forklifts play a giant role, port safety, vessel control & economy.
But believes each stacking option can play a role in our modern world.
If some tech guy says it saves a dollar or a life, then we flip again! (That quick!)

Covid-19 did just that & also quick by opening up new Global Transit combos.
This one involves replacing Southern Ocean Shipping...(Removes all containers!)
China - US (12 Days Shipping) < All Switch > (US - Latin America 3 Days by Air)
Nothing is as it was & Our jokers could be wiped out by the very same brush?

Latest Global Shipping News

Shipping is getting a real grilling by Oz of recent times.
Quarantining Cargo / Cruise Ships each dumping all sorts of shit on our shores.

ryder's picture
ryder's picture
ryder commented Tuesday, 2 Jun 2020 at 4:53pm

Someone needs to get out more

1973bro's picture
1973bro's picture
1973bro commented Thursday, 4 Jun 2020 at 5:58am

Thanks for taking the time to give such
a detailed explanation tbb!
I knew it would boil down to a safety & efficiency, therefore cost saving issue somewhere.
Pitty shipping companies seem willing to accept container loss as a "cost of doing business" rather than implementing other engineering controlls to mitigate safety issues & avoid container losses.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Tuesday, 2 Jun 2020 at 7:46pm

ryder your honesty does help & comment is fair, as tbb wholeheartedly agrees.

Spending my Covid allowance on Physio to get enough strength to reach the surf.
Been quarantined for 11 months with Myositis & as you see... the bipolar kicks in.
Both are exhausting degenerative illnesses that overpower body & mind.
tbb can assure the whole crew, he keeps trying really extra hard to get out more.
It could Happen?

Readers may recall YM Efficiency
Company was recently served court notice
(63 Containers have just been expertly removed)
Great videos of recovery over at swellnet's YM Efficiency site.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020 at 6:15pm

Best wishes to you tbb. You're synopsis is dead right, leaving out only that world shipping works this way because it's easiest, quickest and most efficient way to ship shite around the world. Losses are expected, Insurance covers most of it, but not damage to sailing ships. Containers cargoes riddle the east coast, I was first told about them in the early 90s, just a cost of doing business. They will deliberately jettison to stabilise ships, no problem, I am told. $22M fine, chickenfeed, paid out of petty cash.

This is our mad neoliberal world. Enjoy.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020 at 8:46pm

Cheers TBB
TBB points to lessons in stability over many industries , and what happens when they are not adhered to. Those qualified to be in charge of such operations are supposed to know every detail of every kilo , it's positioning , and the effect it will have on the handling /operation.
all the best tbb . keep em coming