National

Shipping containers wash on to NSW beach

By AAP Newswire

Five 40-foot shipping containers from a Singapore-flagged vessel that lost part of its load have washed up on a NSW beach.

The APL England lost about 40 shipping containers in rough seas off the NSW coast on Sunday night.

The containers were found locked together in a row at Birdie Beach near Norah Head on Wednesday.

Another five containers, also locked together, have been sighted by aircraft off Terrigal, NSW Maritime acting executive director Alex Barrell says.

A single floating container has been spotted off Wollongong.

Mr Barrell says about 60 people are involved in the clean-up.

"This is expected to increase as more debris comes ashore," he said.

Medical face masks, flexible ducting and yellow foam have washed up on beaches from Catherine Hill Bay south to Wollongong.

The APL England docked at the Port of Brisbane on Wednesday where it will undergo a further inspection by maritime safety authorities.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority representative Mark Morrow said the agency will raise concerns about the ship, which has now lost more than 75 containers in Australian waters, with international authorities.

Mr Morrow said aircraft are trying to spot any floating containers to alert ships passing along the east coast.

"Aircraft are trying to locate the floating containers ... at least to provide some advice to shipping in the area as a navigational hazard and also try and retrieve them if we can," he said.

ANL, the operator of APL England, said 21 of the containers lost on Sunday were empty and none of the others contained regulated hazardous goods or dangerous cargo.

The containers held medical supplies, furniture, household appliances and building materials.

The ship was travelling from China to Melbourne when it ran into trouble.

In 2016, the APL England, under different owners, lost 37 containers in rough seas in the Great Australian Bight.

ANL apologised for any disruption that had been caused.

"ANL is committed to preserving the local environment and will undertake to remove debris in as timely a manner as possible," the company said in a statement.

The company has appointed Varley Group to start a clean-up operation on Wednesday.