Face masks and other items are washing up on NSW beaches after 40 shipping containers fell off a ship on the weekend.

The APL England lost the cargo in rough seas on Sunday while en route from China to Melbourne, forcing the ship to turn around and head to Brisbane.

The containers lost overboard hold a wide range of goods including household appliances, building materials and medical supplies.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority officials received reports of face masks “washing up between Magenta Beach and The Entrance” north of Sydney.

“These (reports) correlate to drift modelling of debris and are consistent with items listed on the ship’s cargo manifest,” AMSA general manager of operations Allan Schwartz said on Tuesday.

NSW Maritime executive director Alex Barrell said boxes of flexible ducting, commonly used in heating and cooling systems, washed ashore at Bondi and Long Bay Beach on Tuesday.


NSW Maritime is advising coastal councils between Sydney and Gosford on dealing with the containers and their contents as sea current modelling suggests these areas could be affected over the coming days

Meanwhile AMSA officials are expected to confirm on Wednesday morning whether the APL England can be brought safely into the Port of Brisbane.

AMSA officers boarded the vessel off Port Cartwright in Queensland on Tuesday to conduct a seaworthiness inspection following the collapse of the container stacks.

Almost 75 containers were damaged on deck with another six left protruding from the ship’s starboard side while three are protruding from the port side.

Mr Schwartz said the seaworthiness inspection will help determine if the ship can be brought safely into the Brisbane port.

“Once the ship is safely in port we will begin our investigation, which will focus on the safety of the ship including whether cargo was appropriately stacked and secured on board the ship, and any potential breaches of environmental pollution regulations,” Mr Schwartz said in a statement.