On 8 November the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) signed a contract to commence operations with Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROUVs) to investigate the containers lost from the YM Efficiency.
The ship’s insurers, Aus Ship, and operators, Yang Ming, conducted survey operations in the area in July, which located approximately 37 containers. There have been significant delays in further search operations caused by weather and sea conditions. While activities recommenced on Friday 19 October, AMSA’s analysis of the completed surveys indicates that there are as many as 42 containers still missing.
The presence of these containers in the valuable fishing grounds off Newcastle presents an unacceptable risk to local fishers. The dangers of hooking up on debris has understandably led to many local trawlers avoiding these valuable areas, which not only impacts their livelihood but also has knock-on effects for the local industry.
AMSA has received three credible reports of trawler hook-ups on containers or other materials lost from the YM Efficiency.
The ROUVs will descend to the ocean floor and provide imagery of the containers and any associated debris that has been identified by the surveys so far. These images will allow an assessment by salvage experts on whether the items can be brought to the surface safely and without causing more damage to the environment.
The survey activity is expected to begin in about a week and take several weeks to complete.
AMSA will keep local fishers and the community informed of the progress and the plans to remove the debris as soon as possible.