Port of Newcastle’s West Basin has become a temporary cargo sorting facility for debris recovered from the 81 containers that fell overboard container vessel YM Efficiency off the Hunter coast in June 2018.

Carrying the debris and the first of the remaining 60 containers, a specialist salvage vessel, MV Pride, sailed into the Port today.

Port of Newcastle has provided a dedicated area for the waste to be unloaded, sorted, and prepared for transportation.


YM Efficiency lost 81 containers overboard in June 2018 off the Port Stephens coast, causing debris to wash up on Hunter beaches.

In 2018, Port of Newcastle successfully located about 40 of the lost containers out at sea, using its surveying vessel, the JT Gowland.

In December 2019, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) awarded a $15 million contract to Ardent Oceania, the marine services company that oversaw the recovery of the Pasha Bulker in 2007, to recover the YM Efficiency containers.

AMSA said: “Leaving the containers in-situ poses an unacceptable environmental risk for the local community and future generations. It also presents a safety risk to local fishers.”

Recovery operations are expected to take about one month, weather permitting.

The recovery process

Once recovered from the ocean, the containers will be transported by the specialist salvage vessel to a temporary cargo sorting facility at Port of Newcastle.

This temporary holding and sorting facility has in place strict measures to ensure that the contents of the containers cannot escape into the port or environment.

Adopting a reuse and recycle approach, the Ardent Oceania recovery team will, where possible, try to identify items that could be reused. Items that are too damaged to be reused will be sorted or, where possible, disassembled so that recyclable material, such as the steel from the containers, can be recovered appropriately.

Offsite licensed recycling facilities will also assist the recycling efforts, using equipment to further assist sorting and segregation of some product streams.

Throughout the onsite and offsite processes, any products that are not able to be reused or recycled will be transferred to landfill, or other appropriate licensed facilities, in accordance with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) guidelines.

For more information about this recovery project, visit the AMSA website.

Port of Newcastle is proud to play a major role in the NSW economy and to support local and regional initiatives that provide sustainable benefits for its communities. 

Port of Newcastle

Port of Newcastle is a major Australian trade gateway handling 4,600 ship movements and 171 million tonnes of cargo each year. With its annual trade worth about $25 billion to the New South Wales economy, the Port enables businesses across the state to successfully compete in international markets. With a deepwater shipping channel operating at 50% of its capacity, significant port land available and enviable access to national rail and road infrastructure, Port of Newcastle is positioned to further underpin the prosperity of the Hunter, NSW and Australia. As custodians of the region’s critical asset, Port of Newcastle is diversifying its trade as it strives to create a safe, sustainable and environmentally and socially responsible Port that realises its potential.

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