APL England cleared to sail to China for repairs

The Singapore-flagged containership APL England, which lost around 50 containers in heavy weather last month off Sydney, has been allowed to set sail from Australia after the ship’s insurer committed to pay $22.5 million needed to cover for fines and response costs incurred by the incident.

Prior to allowing the ship to sail, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) received a formal written undertaking from the ship’s insurer, Steamship Mutual, that it will pay fines and other amounts in relation to AMSA’s costs in responding to the incident.

The ship left Australia on Friday evening heading for China where it is scheduled to undertake repairs. The ship’s estimated time of arrival is June 30, according to the data from Marine Traffic.

AMSA inspections of APL England found inadequate lashing arrangements for cargo and heavily corroded securing points for containers on the deck to be the main cause of the container spill. The ship was detained in the Port of Brisbane until the necessary deficiencies are removed.

AMSA ordered the owner of APL England to search for missing containers and recover them.

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

“AMSA welcomes advice from the owners and insurer that they are in the early stages of tendering for a sonar search of about 1000km2 of water from the Illawarra to Sydney’s southern suburbs where it is believed multiple containers may have sunk, as per the Direction issued by AMSA,” AMSA said in an update.

“While it is unfortunate that this incident occurred in the first place, the early response by the owners and their insurers has been welcomed,” AMSA’s CEO Mick Kinley said.

“The response to incidents like these don’t happen overnight, but this early commitment shows that the vessel’s owners and insurers intend to do what they can to ensure our seas remain safe and clean.”

The ship’s previous Master, who is facing multiple charges relating to the incident, will leave the ship and be repatriated home.