The main industry group for the liner shipping industry said a study of containers lost at sea finds far fewer are lost than in some reports.
The World Shipping Council (WSC) said Wednesday that based on survey results it estimates that "on average there are approximately 350 containers lost at sea each year, not counting catastrophic events. When one counts the catastrophic losses, an average total loss per year of approximately 675 containers was observed.
"Total industry losses obviously vary from year to year, but these numbers are well below the 2,000 to 10,000 per year that regularly appear publicly, and represent a very small fraction of container loads shipped each year," WSC said, adding that "the industry continues to pursue measures to reduce the number of containers lost overboard to zero.
'Containers lost overboard as a result of events related to severe weather are usually outside the control of carriers, stevedores, or shippers, and unfortunately, such events are unlikely to disappear completely. But the industry has been supporting a number of efforts undertaken in recent years to reduce the number of containers lost at sea.'
These efforts include:
' A joint industry/government project, called Lashing@Sea, led by the Maritime Research Institute of the Netherlands (MARIN). The project aims to prevent lashings systems from failing and increase lashing efficiency where possible.
' Joint publication of Safe Transport of Containers by Sea:
Industry Guidance for Shippers and Container Stuffers
by WSC and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which provides recommended best practices for ships, port facilities, and shippers in loading and handling cargo containers.
' A joint decision by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Labor Organization, and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to develop a code of practice for packing cargo transport units, including containers. The code has a target publication date of 2013, and WSC said it is helping prepare recommendations.
' IMO's consideration of a proposal by WSC and ICS to require the actual weight of every loaded container be verified and provided to the vessel operator prior to stowing on board a ship, because mis-declared weights have contributed to container losses overboard, as well as to other safety and operational problems. IMO will begin consideration of that proposal next month.
MARIN is one of the groups that said on its Web site that "every year tens of thousands of containers, cars and trucks are lost or damaged at sea."
Jos Koning, senior project manager at MARIN, told American Shipper
that he was "happy to learn that the actual total number over the past three years comes out much lower at 350 - 650 boxes per year when the operational data per liner is added up.
"The difference is irrelevant for coastal communities, third party ship traffic and offshore platforms that are endangered by floating containers. The different number does not mean that less containers will be washed on the beach than before. Containers have washed up on Dutch beaches regularly over past years. The smaller number merely means that lesser containers are responsible for the effects that are already being experienced," he said,
"So as mentioned in the WSC release even the lower number is reason enough to keep striving for further improvement of transport safety,"
Koning noted the "findings of the joint industry project Lashing@Sea have triggered Dutch authorities to submit the IMO proposal to take the mandatory container weighing topic into consideration. As mentioned also by WSC this is strongly supported by the industry." ' Chris Dupin