Face masks wash up on NSW beaches after ship lost containers

A Singapore-flagged ship that lost about 40 shipping containers in rough seas off NSW was carrying face masks, household appliances and building materials.

Face masks have now reportedly washed up on some beaches on the Central Coast days after the incident.

Maritime safety officials on Tuesday inspected the container ship APL England anchored off the Sunshine Coast.

The ship lost the cargo on Sunday while en route from China to Melbourne, with the incident forcing the ship to turn around and head toward Brisbane.

The affected container stacks contained goods like household appliances, building materials and medical supplies, Australian Maritime Safety Authority general manager of operations Allan Schwartz said.

Mr Schwartz said reports had been received of face masks washed up between Magenta Beach and The Entrance.

“These correlate to drift modelling of debris and are consistent with items listed on the ship’s cargo manifest,” he said.

AMSA officers boarded the ship on Tuesday to check the ship’s structural and operational condition following the collapse of the container stacks. Television news footage showed several containers hanging precariously over the edge of the ship.

Authorities expect to know the outcome of the inspection and have confirmation of the next steps on Wednesday morning.

This will include if and how the ship can be brought safely into the Port of Brisbane.

“Once the ship is safely in port we will begin our investigation which will focus on the safety of the ship, including whether cargo was appropriately stacked and secured on board the ship, and any potential breaches of environmental pollution regulations,” Mr Schwartz said.

The APL England suffered a temporary loss of propulsion in heavy seas about 75km southeast of Sydney, which caused it to roll.

A few dozen containers tumbled overboard in waters about 2km deep while another 74 were damaged, leaving nine containers protruding from the ship’s starboard and port sides.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau was also notified and will investigate.

The APL England – under different management – previously lost 37 containers in the Great Australian Bight in August 2016, also due to heavy rolling in rough seas.

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