Video: APL England Loses Containers Overboard Near Australia

Containers hanging over the side of the APL England - courtesy AMSA

Published May 25, 2020 3:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Singapore-flagged container ship APL England has reportedly lost 40 containers overboard while encountering heavy seas off the coast of Australia.  

According to reports from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the incident occurred around 6 am local time on May 24 when the ship experienced a temporary loss of propulsion during heavy seas about 73 kilometers southeast of Sydney. The ship’s power was quickly restored, but during that time the ship reported that it was rolling heavily, causing container stacks to collapse.

The master of the APL England reported that 40 containers fell overboard due to the rolling. Six additional containers were also protruding from the starboard side of the vessel and three containers were overhanging from the port side of the APL England. An additional 74 containers have been damaged but remained on the ship.

APL England at sea after containers went overboard - courtesy AMSA


The APL England was en route from Ningbo, China to Melbourne, Australia. Built in 2001, the vessel has a total carry capacity of 5510 TEU. The ship has not reported any damage to its hull, but the APL England sailed to Brisbane, Australia, where it anchored around midnight local time. It will be inspected by AMSA before being permitted to sail.  

AMSA is also inspecting by air the area around the accident looking for containers and debris in the water as well as pollution from the ship. Some containers were spotted in the water during an initial inspection that was hampered by bad weather and poor visibility. Further air investigations are ongoing. According to initial modeling by AMSA any floating containers or debris would likely wash up to the north of Sydney.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has also been notified and has confirmed it will also investigate the incident. Investigators will board the ship when it reaches port to collect relevant evidence including interviewing the captain and  crew.

Accidents of this nature happen frequently with some studies reporting hundreds or even thousands containers go overboard each year threatening marine life and as a danger to navigation.  

According to the Australian authorities, the APL England previously lost 37 containers in the Great Australian Bight in August 2016 due to heavy rolling in rough seas.  

Two years ago, in June 2018, the Taiwanese-owned container ship YM Efficiency lost 81 containers overboard near Newcastle, Australia after that vessel also reported a loss of main engine power during heavy seas leading to heavy rolling and a collapse of containers stacks. AMSA recently reported that the recovery and cleanup of debris from the YM Efficiency had been completed at an estimated cost of A$17 million. AMSA has commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court in Australia seeking to recover all costs associated with the recovery operation from the vessel’s owners Yang Ming and their insurers.