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Australia cracks down on container handling after spate of losses


Australia cracks down on container handling after spate of losses

A recent string of containers lost overboard in Australian waters has led to pollution and expensive clean-up operations. The country’s maritime authorities are now taking a tougher line with inspections

Poor adherence to Solas rules on container stowage behind box losses, says AMSA

AUSTRALIAN maritime authorities are to target container shipping with a new inspection campaign designed to reduce the number of boxes lost at sea.

“We have seen the serious consequence of improper cargo securing arrangements in the form of tonnes of plastics and other debris washing up on our beautiful beaches and floating in our oceans,” said Michael Drake, acting general manager of the Maritime Safety Authority.

“Rusted cargo securing points, improper lashings and exceeding stack weight limits have all contributed to these incidents and ship operators should be on notice that non-compliance will not be tolerated in Australia.”

Casualty investigations carried out by the authority found improper stacking and securing of cargo and poor maintenance of securing equipment was likely to have been contributing factors to recent incidents.

These include the loss of 81 containers from YM Efficiency in 2018, 50 off APL England in May and three containers from Navios Unite in June.

Mr Drake said that vessels visiting Australia must ensure they fully complied with the international standards relating to cargo securing laid out in Chapter VI of the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas) Convention.

The enhanced inspection campaign will run from the beginning of August until the end of October and will involve both extended port state control inspections and standalone inspections.

“If a cargo ship visits Australia over this period, the master should expect that AMSA will visit the ship as part of this focused campaign,” the regulator said.

If a vessel is non-compliant, it risks being detained until AMSA has taken steps to bring it into compliance.

The World Shipping Council, which represents the major container carriers, announced recently that the number of containers being lost at sea had continued to decline in recent years, with fewer than 800 a year being lost overboard in the latest three-year period.