The YM Efficiency Container Recovery Project: A Deep Dive

In June 2018, the maritime industry witnessed a significant incident when the Liberia-flagged containership, YM Efficiency, lost 81 containers overboard off the Hunter coast. This event not only posed a threat to the marine environment but also raised concerns about maritime safety and the potential hazards these containers could pose to other vessels and local communities.

The Immediate Aftermath

Following the incident, debris from the containers began washing up on the Hunter beaches, causing environmental concerns and necessitating immediate action. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) took the lead in addressing this challenging situation, emphasising their commitment to environmental preservation and maritime safety.

The Recovery Process

AMSA identified a total of 63 shipping containers that needed to be retrieved. By the end of the recovery operations, all these containers were successfully recovered, with the final six brought onshore in February 2021.

The Port of Newcastle played a pivotal role in the recovery process. Its West Basin was transformed into a temporary cargo sorting facility for the debris recovered from the 81 containers that had fallen overboard. The specialist salvage vessel, MV Pride, was instrumental in bringing the debris and the containers to the Port. The Port provided a dedicated area for the waste to be unloaded, sorted, and prepared for transportation.

The Bigger Picture

The YM Efficiency incident highlighted the potential environmental and safety risks posed by such maritime incidents. In the aftermath of the container loss, contractors removed approximately 1,040 tonnes of pollution from around 400 kilometres of shoreline, which included plastics, furniture, tyres, and paper products.

However, the recovery operations were not without challenges. The ship’s owners, Yang Ming, and their insurers, Britannia P&I, initially did not believe that the containers constituted pollution. This stance led AMSA to step in and initiate the recovery operations, with the intention of recovering all associated costs from Yang Ming and its insurer.


The YM Efficiency Container Recovery Project underscores the importance of swift and coordinated action in the face of maritime incidents. With the collaborative efforts of AMSA, the Port of Newcastle, and other stakeholders, the potential hazards posed by the lost containers were effectively addressed, reaffirming the maritime industry’s commitment to safeguarding our oceans.


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