“A COMPLETE success” is how the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has deemed the recovery effort for containers lost overboard from the YM Efficiency almost two years ago.

On Friday afternoon (8 May) the specialist recovery vessel MV Pride returned to Newcastle for the final time to discharge containers and pollution recovered.

The recovery operation began on April 3 and saw 63 containers and tonnes of associated pollution recovered from the ocean.

AMSA general manager of response Mark Morrow praised the “remarkable job” of the recovery teams, while also having a dig at Yang Ming.

“We thank the seafarers from both Australia and overseas who have completed this work away from their homes and families in this time of a global pandemic,” Mr Morrow said.

“By recovering these containers and the tonnes of plastic and other rubbish contained inside we have ensured that future generations are not picking up Yang Ming’s mess off the regions beaches for decades to come.”

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“This project was forecast to take a month and was done in 35 days, including 7.5 days of delay for weather. Also, although originally expecting 60, we have recovered 63 containers, a remarkable result.”

AMSA signed a contract with Ardent Oceania in December 2019 to perform the clean-up.

Ardent used a custom manufactured steel basket which was lowered to the ocean floor where remotely operated underwater vehicles transferred the containers and associated rubbish into the basket to be brought on board the ship.

The offshore construction vessel MV Pride made four trips to port to discharge the recovered containers, which were processed at a specially-built facility and recycled where possible.

AMSA CEO Mick Kinley. Credit: AMSA

The final six containers now will be processed at the facility within Port of Newcastle operated by AVCON projects before the site is decommissioned.

According to AMSA, the cost of the recovery is about $17m, which, unless recovered, is to be funded from levies collected from the shipping industry.

AMSA chief executive Mick Kinley said this operation had exposed Yang Ming and its insurer’s arguments against removing the pollution “as nonsense”.

“Yang Ming and their insurers Britannia P&I have tried every trick in the book to attempt to shirk their responsibilities to clean up their mess.

“They said that attempting to remove these containers was dangerous. That was wrong.

“They said trying to remove them would cause more damage to the environment. That was wrong.

“They said that these containers and their contents aren’t pollution. There have been tonnes of garbage that show that was wrong too.

“Yang Ming are out of excuses and they should pay up.”

AMSA has commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court to recover all costs associated with the recovery operation from Yang Ming and their insurers.

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