The Liberian-flagged container ship YM Efficiency lost 81 containers overboard and suffered structural damage in gale-force weather conditions.
The incident also resulted in damage to a further 62 containers and damage to the ship’s gangway, superstructure and lashing bridges.
The 4,250 TEU vessel was on its way from Kaohsiung, Taiwan to Port Botany in Australia, when it was hit by severe weather conditions on June 1, according to a report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
While it was in a position about 16 nautical miles east-south-east of Newcastle, the ship experienced a period of quick, heavy rolling for about 60 to 90 seconds. The rolling was estimated by the ship’s master as having reached angles of up to 30º to port and starboard.
Shortly after the start of the rolling, several engineering alarms sounded and the main engine shut down with the rpm reducing to zero.
The second officer reported hearing loud noises on deck and suspected that there had been some cargo damage. He turned on the ship’s deck lights and observed that containers had been damaged and possibly lost overboard from the bays aft of the accommodation.
Soon after, the main engine was re-started and the engine telegraph on the bridge was placed at ‘dead slow ahead’ and then, almost immediately, placed at ‘stop’ again. The ship continued to drift in the gale force winds and seas for some two hours, when the main engine was started and the ship resumed passage for Port Botany.
In the morning, the ship’s crew conducted more detailed damage assessments and attempted to stabilise the damaged and collapsed containers on deck. The container loss and damage was found to be limited to bays 52 and 56.
Over the next few days, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), along with Roads and Maritime Services, NSW, continued to work with the ship’s owners and insurers to detect, identify and track containers and their contents on the NSW coast.
YM Efficiency eventually berthed in Port Botany on June 6 and over the next days it underwent a number of investigations. On June 11, the first damaged container was discharged and by June 21, all remaining damaged containers had been removed. YM Efficiency departed Port Botany for Melbourne on June 22.
ATSB launched an investigation to analyse the ship’s container stow and lashing arrangement, its stability condition, actions of the ship’s officers and crew following the incident and weather conditions at the time of the incident.