Huge clean up stretching from Wollongong to Catherine Hill Bay underway to collect debris lost from APL England

A massive shoreline clean up spanning Wollongong to Catherine Hill Bay was in full swing on Wednesday and will continue over coming days with more debris from a ship's overboard cargo expected to wash ashore.

Five of the 40 containers that fell from APL England south-east of Sydney on Sunday lobbed on Birdie beach near Budgewoi, along with thousands of surgical face masks on at least half a dozen Central Coast beaches.

Early morning beachgoers began collecting and stockpiling the masks and other debris for removal at multiple beaches including The Entrance, Shelly, Wamberal and Macmasters.

Later in the day, National Parks rangers assessed the containers on Birdie beach, which was littered with debris like plastic and foam.

Authorities face a difficult task to remove those containers, located about three kilometres north of Budgewoi beach, given the isolated nature of the area.

Containers were sighted as far north as Stockton and as far south as Jervis Bay, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said on Wednesday night.

Three interlocked containers off Stockton were spotted by the crew of a commercial fishing boat.

NSW Maritime, which is managing the onshore clean-up operation, has contracted Carrington-based Varley Group to help collect debris.

"Another five containers, also locked together, have been sighted during aerial surveillance off Terrigal as well as a single floating container off Wollongong," NSW Maritime acting executive director Alex Barrell said.

"We have had our staff working around the clock to attend reported locations of debris ... and have appointed two contractors to lead the collection with a workforce of 60 people.

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

Mr Barrell said 21 of the 40 containers that fell overboard were believed to have been empty.

The APL England has docked in Brisbane after heading north to avoid the swell off the NSW coast. Containers are still protruding from its sides.

The ship spilled the cargo after losing power and rocking in heavy seas 73 kilometres off Sydney.

The incident is almost identical to how the YM Efficiencyspilled more than 80 containers off the Hunter coast on June 1, 2018.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation found that ship's load had not been secured properly.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is locked in a court battle to have Taiwanese company Yang Ming pick up the bill.

The APL England is owned by Singapore-based APL, which is a subsidiary of French shipping company CMA CGM.

This story Deja vu as cargo spill lines NSW beaches with debris first appeared on Newcastle Herald.