The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has ordered the owners of the APL England to recover all 50 containers that were lost overboard on 24 May 2020.
In a statement, AMSA said it has used drift modelling and analysis of reported sightings to identify a priority search area of about 1,000 kilometres where it believes the containers could be.
Additionally, it said these 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 after being spotted floating off the coast, but 35 containers were still 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,” 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.
On 1 June AMSA charged the Master of the APL England with offences related to pollution and/damage to Australia’s marine environment as a result of poor cargo handling.