Ship Master Charged Over Container Spill

Rough seas caused 50 shipping containers to topple overboard.

Port of Brisbane, Australia.
Port of Brisbane, Australia.

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The ship master of a Singapore-registered vessel that spilled some of its cargo off the Australian east coast has been charged with damage of the marine environment and pollution.

The APL England was en route to Melbourne from China when rough seas caused 50 shipping containers to topple overboard last Sunday. The marine authority said the spill resulted from poor cargo loading.

On Saturday, ship operator ANL said the APL England’s crew had done well to maneuver the ship to safety amid poor weather conditions. The ship is now detained at the Port of Brisbane.

“This was an unnerving event, even for seasoned maritime professionals, and the captain and the crew have ANL’s full support,” the operator said in a statement.

ANL also said it had contracted two companies to help with the cleanup, including the removal of debris and spilled containers. Only about 15 containers have been accounted for.

Marine authority operations general manager Allan Schwartz handed down the charges against the ship master on Friday, a decision he said was not taken lightly.

“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,” Schwartz said in a statement.

Cleanup efforts were concentrated on beaches around eastern Sydney and north to Newcastle, 160 kilometers (100 miles) away.

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