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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is urging shipping operators to regularly check and replace their container lashing equipment as a result of an incident involving the Hong Kong registered container ship Pacific Adventurer.

On 11 March 2009, Pacific Adventurer lost 31 containers overboard during severe weather and large swells off Cape Moreton, Queensland. As the unsecured containers went overboard, they holed two of the ship's fuel oil bunker tanks. This caused the ship to leak 270 tonnes of bunker oil into the sea which affected 70kms of Queensland's coastline.

The ATSB investigation into the incident found that much of the ship's loose and fixed container lashing equipment, which is meant to secure the containers to the ship, was in poor condition. In addition, the inspection and replacement regime of this equipment had not been effectively implemented.

ATSB Chief Commissioner, Mr Martin Dolan, said this incident highlights the importance for all operators to ensure their cargo is properly secured, especially before bad weather is expected.

'Unsecure shipping containers pose a major threat to life, property and the environment,' Mr Dolan said.

'All shipping operators should be regularly and systematically maintaining their lashing equipment to prevent a recurrence of the Pacific Adventurer incident.'

The ATSB also identified several other safety issues as a result of the investigation. These include:

  • there was no requirement for a third party to inspect this lashing equipment
  • the cargo in the containers lost overboard was not packaged in accordance with international dangerous goods shipping requirements
  • the dangerous goods shipping compliance audit regime did not pick up on this fact.

The organisations involved have already addressed these issues.

A copy of the Pacific Adventurer investigation report MO-2009-002.

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Last update 01 April 2011