​​​​​​​Virus Masks Wash Ashore After Vessel Loses 40 Containers In Rough Seas

The APL England, a large container ship, lost 40 shipping containers in rough seas off the east coast of Australia over the weekend, reported the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

The Singapore-flagged container ship was about 45 miles east of Sydney when the vessel experienced a "temporary loss of propulsion" on Sunday morning. Lifeless in heavy seas, the vessel was rocked by monster waves that caused container stacks to topple over and fall overboard.   

Incident map 

In addition to the 40 containers, 74 were "damaged and collapsed on the deck of the ship, while a further six containers are reported to be protruding from the starboard side and three containers from the port side of the ship," AMSA said in a Facebook post. 

Up close container damage on APL England via AMSA

Aerial footage of the ship on Monday

The incident forced the vessel to turn around and anchor off Brisbane in Byron Bay as AMSA surveyed the damage. 

"Our team of surveyors conducted a seaworthiness inspection to establish the structural and operational condition of the ship. The outcome of this inspection will help inform if, and how, the ship might be brought safely into the Port of Brisbane.

"It appears that the affected stacks contained a wide range of goods like household appliances, building materials and medical supplies.

AMSA survey pictures of APL England damage 

"We have also received a report of some medical supplies (for example, face masks) washing up between Magenta Beach and The Entrance. If you see debris which could be linked to the incident, please pass this information on to NSW Maritime," AMSA said Tuesday. 

On Wednesday morning, AMSA said, "our surveyors conducted an inspection" and found the vessel to be "fit." It determined to bring the vessel into port on midday Tuesday. 

"We are currently investigating the ship on two fronts. It's compliance with both Australian and international maritime safety standards, and also whether the ship has breached any Australian environmental protection regulations or standards," AMSA wrote. 

AMSA also said if people "discover any suspected debris or shipping containers" along the New South Wales coastline, that they should contact authorities. 

AMSA General Manager of Operations Allan Schwartz said reports are already coming in that medical supplies, such as face masks, are washing up "between Magenta Beach and The Entrance." It appears some of the containers were packed with critical medical supplies to combat COVID-19.