Singapore freighter probed after face masks, other goods wash ashore near Sydney

At left, the containers teeter from the Singaporean container ship. Washed-up surgical masks and food containers at right. Images: AMSA/Facebook, Aliy Potts/Facebook
At left, the containers teeter from the Singaporean container ship. Washed-up surgical masks and food containers at right. Images: AMSA/Facebook, Aliy Potts/Facebook

A Singapore-flagged container ship is being investigated after it lost dozens of containers transporting appliances, construction materials, and medical supplies, some of which washed ashore in Australia.

The APL England was rerouted to the Port of Brisbane where it is being surveyed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority for possible violations after the goods went overboard in bad weather Sunday, leading to scenes of several beaches strewn with face masks and other goods. 

“We are currently investigating the ship on two fronts. It’s compliance with both Australian and international maritime safety standards, and also whether the ship has breached any Australian environmental protection regulations or standards,” the authority said yesterday.

The incident happened in the ocean southeast of Sydney when the vessel experienced a “temporary loss of propulsion” (read: its engines died) due to the rough seas, which caused container stacks to collapse and 40 containers to fall overboard. 

The ship was set to sail from Ningbo, China, to Melbourne.

The Australian maritime agency released video footage Monday showing the container stacks on the verge of falling off the ship.

“An additional 74 containers are damaged and collapsed on the deck of the ship, while a further six containers are reported to be protruding from starboard side and three containers from the port side of the ship,” the caption read.

Australians posted photos of the lost goods washing ashore on Australian beaches such as Magenta Beach and The Entrance at New South Wales. 

A number of local residents posted online yesterday of surgical masks and plastic containers they found washed up in beaches and coasts near Sydney.

“With 40 shipping containers full of masks and plastic containers falling into the ocean I spent less then [an] hour at Coogee beach and got 100s of mask and still more washed up, as people of this earth it’s our job to try and help where we can so keep an eye on your beaches people, different currents will take them to different beaches,” Sydney resident Aliy Potts said yesterday.

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