The $17 million project to recover more than 60 containers lost from the YM Efficiency off the Hunter coast in June 2018 wrapt up on Friday afternoon.
The salvage vessel MV Pride returned to Port of Newcastle for the final time at 4pm to offload the final load of containers and pollution recovered from the ocean floor.
The recovery operation began on April 3 and has seen 63 containers and tonnes of associated pollution successfully recovered from the ocean.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority general manager of response Mark Morrow described the operation as "a complete success."
"The recovery teams have done a remarkable job in removing this pollution from our oceans in such a professional and efficient manner," he said.
"By recovering these containers and the tonnes of plastic and other rubbish contained inside we have ensured that future generations are not picking up (the YM Efficiency's owner) Yang Ming's mess off the region's beaches for decades to come.
The project was forecast to take a month and was done in 35 days, including 7.5 days of delay for weather.
The original expectation was for 60 containers to be collected, however, the final tally was 63.
In December 2019, AMSA signed a contract with Ardent Oceania to undertake the clean-up operation.
Salvage contractor Ardent Oceania used a custom built steel basket which was lowered to the ocean floor where remotely operated underwater vehicles assisted in transferring the containers and associated rubbish into the basket.
The MV Pride made four trips to port to discharge the recovered containers, which were processed at a specially constructed facility and recycled where possible.
The final six containers will now be processed at the facility within Port of Newcastle before the site is decommissioned.
The total cost of the recovery operation to remove and dispose of 63 containers is about $17 million, which, unless recovered, will be funded from levies collected from the shipping industry.
Since this pollution event occurred in June 2018 AMSA has attempted to engage with Yang Ming, about its responsibility to remove the remaining containers from the seafloor.
AMSA's chief executive Mick Kinley said the salvage operation had exposed Yang Ming and their insurer's arguments against removing this pollution as nonsense.
"Yang Ming and their insurers Britannia P&I have tried every trick in the book to attempt to shirk their responsibilities to clean up their mess," he said.
"They said that attempting to remove these containers was dangerous. That was wrong.
"They said trying to remove them would cause more damage to the environment. That was wrong.
"They said that these containers and their contents aren't pollution. There have been tonnes of garbage that show that was wrong too.
"Yang Ming are out of excuses and they should pay up."
AMSA has commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court to recover all cost.