The captain charged in connection with the loss of containers from the APL England will be allowed to leave Australia.
The captain, identified by media outlets as 43-year-old Mohamad Zulkhaili Bin Alias, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday. Australian media reports said the terms of his bail were revised to allow him to return home to Malaysia and work. He previously had been ordered to remain on the container ship at the Port of Brisbane.
The APL England, which has a capacity of 5,510 twenty-foot equivalent units, was en route from Ningbo, China, to Melbourne, Australia, when it reportedly encountered heavy seas May 24. Fifty containers fell overboard after the vessel experienced a brief loss of propulsion approximately 40 nautical miles off the coast of Sydney.
“The ship’s power was restored within a few minutes, but during this time the ship reported that it was rolling heavily, causing container stacks to collapse and several containers to fall overboard,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.
Alias has been charged with violating Section 26F of the Protection of the Sea Act of 1983 prohibiting the discharge of garbage into the sea and violating Section 141 of the Navigation Act of 2012 by not ensuring the vessel was operated in a manner to prevent pollution of the marine environment of coastal Australia.
The charges carry maximum penalties in excess of AU$300,000 ($206,250), according to the AMSA.
ANL operates the Singapore-flagged ship for APL. APL is part of the CMA CGM Group.
The APL England remains detained at the Port of Brisbane and “will not be released until its serious deficiencies have been rectified,” according to the AMSA, which said inspections of the ship found inadequate lashing for cargo and heavily corroded securing points for containers on the deck. “These inspection findings are a clear breach of requirements under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Seas.”
The AMSA said from the investigation, it was “clear that the risk of container loss could have been reduced.”
The AMSA is requiring “financial security from the insurers” in the amount of AU$22 million ($15.07 million) for the cleanup.
Twenty recovery teams reportedly cleaned 45 beaches, where contents of the containers washed ashore.
Of the 50 containers lost, 26 were empty, according to the AMSA, which said 24 containers that fell overboard contained “a range of products, including plastic packaging and wrapping, plastic ducting, baby seats, face masks, shoes, bakeware, shovels, rubber lane separators, car seat covers, handwash, breadcrumbs, furniture [and] pet accessories.”
Alias’ next court appearance is July 24.
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