ALMOST two years after falling overboard, shipping containers lost from the YM Efficiency are being pulled from the seafloor.
The first of 60 containers expected to be removed off the coast over coming weeks was lifted onto the deck of a specialist vessel on Monday.
Each container is being lifted into a custom-made basket on the seafloor to ensure it does break apart during removal.
A hydraulic crane on the ship then pulls the basket from the sea.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in an operational update the first container had been safely lifted onto the M/V Pride "without releasing any further pollution into the environment".
"According to the manifest the first container is believed to be carrying furniture products, the container was brought to the surface intact and will not be opened until brought ashore to the waste processing facility," it said.
The specialist vessel left the Port of Newcastle earlier this week for what project contractor Ardent Oceania anticipates to be a month-long operation.
AMSA told the Australian Community Media last week the M/V Pride would return to port only twice during that time to unload the containers and resupply.
The Yang Ming-owned YM Efficiency lost 81 containers off the Hunter coast on June 1, 2018.
The incident caused widespread pollution along the NSW coast. Tonnes of plastic products washed ashore, predominately on Port Stephens beaches.
AMSA is locked in a Federal Court battle with Yang Ming's insurers about the cost of removing the containers.