OWNERS of the APL England have been issued with a direction from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority ordering them to search for missing containers.

As reported in Daily Cargo News, 50 containers fell overboard from the vessel on 24 May while off the coast of New South Wales.

The ship’s operator and charterer ANL has publicly stated its efforts to track down and clean up any containers that have washed up on the beach.

The latest direction from AMSA also orders the owners to recover containers as agreed with AMSA.

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AMSA has identified a priority search area of about 1000km2 stretching between the Illawarra and Sydney’s southern suburbs.

Drift modelling and analysis of container sightings following the incident indicates shows missing containers could be in this area at a depth of up to 200metres.

Containers within the search area pose the most immediate environmental threat and may present a safety hazard for commercial fishers.

AMSA general manager response Mark Morrow said 15 containers had been recovered from the shoreline or towed in, but 35 containers remained missing.

“The owner’s and operator’s responsibility to clean-up the mess left behind by their ship does not end at the water’s edge,” Mr Morrow said.

“We have only just finished cleaning-up more than 60 containers and their contents from the seafloor off Newcastle after Yang Ming’s ship YM Efficiency lost containers back in June 2018.   

“That is not a pollution legacy that any respectable ship owner or operator would want to leave behind in their wake.”

Mr Morrow said AMSA expected the owner and operator to respond to the direction with a detailed search plan in the coming days.

“Failure to comply with this direction constitutes an offence under Australian law,” Mr Morrow said.

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