The international liner shipping industry has managed to cut the average number of containers lost at sea, a survey by World Shipping Council (WSC) showed.
Namely, according to the 2017 survey, which gathered input for 2014, 2015 and 2016, the average number of containers lost at sea excluding catastrophic events was 612 for each year, which is about 16% less than the average of 733 units lost each year for the previous three year period.
When catastrophic losses are included, the total containers lost at sea averaged 1,390 with 56% of those lost being attributed to catastrophic events. This is a 48% reduction from the average annual total losses of 2,683 estimated in 2014.
This larger number in 2014 is due primarily to two factors, including the complete loss in 2013 of the MOL Comfort in the Indian Ocean and all of the 4,293 containers on board and, in 2011, the grounding and loss of the M/V Rena off New Zealand, which resulted in a loss overboard of roughly 900 containers.
Wehn looking at the results of the nine year period, from 2008 to 2016, the WSC estimates that there were on average 568 containers lost at sea each year, not counting catastrophic events, and on average a total of 1,582 containers lost at sea each year including catastrophic events. On average, 64% of containers lost during the last decade were attributed to a catastrophic event.
The international liner shipping industry transported around 130 million containers packed with cargo, with an estimated value of more than USD 4 trillion.
Even with proper packing of the cargo into the container, correct container weight declaration, and proper stowage and securing aboard ship, a number of factors ranging from severe weather and rough seas to more catastrophic and rare events like ship groundings, structural failures, and collisions can result in containers being lost at sea.
At any point in time, there are about 6,000 containerships active on the world’s seas and waterways linking continents and communities through trade. WCS said that the container shipping industry’s goal remains to keep the loss of containers carried on those ships as close to zero as possible.