Poor maintenance to blame for APL container spill


Adverse weather and inept maintenance led to the loss of 50 containers on an APL England vessel.

A final report into the loss of containers on 24 May, 2020, from a ship off Sydney, Australia, stressed the significance of regularly maintaining vessel fixtures to optimise container security.

The ship’s fixed container securing arrangements on deck were found to be in a poor state of repair and several securing fixtures were weakened by corrosion, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). 

“Our investigators found this condition would have taken several years of poor maintenance to develop,” ATSB Chief Commissioner, Angus Mitchell, said.

“This showed the ship had not received the scrutiny from crewmembers, shore management, or other agencies that a ship of its age or condition required.”

READ: Australian authorities release APL England

The investigation also revealed that protocol for bad weather was not adhered to.

“Had these procedures and associated assessment tools been used, navigational and operational decisions could have been made, which would have better prepared the ship for the conditions encountered,” Mitchell said.

Fixtures on the APL England have since been repaired, while deck and container fittings on all other APL vessels have been inspected and repaired as required. 

APL has also adopted additional safety measures regarding planning and navigation in adverse weather. 

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