Container losses mount in 2021

container losses at the start of 2021 far outweight the yearly average we have seen over the previous decade and the industry are starting to show concerns. Towards the end of 2020 we saw the loss of 1816 containers from the One APUS after severe weather conditions. We have now seen two further large scale container losses. The Maersk Eindhoven has lost 260 containers and the Maersk Essen lost 750 containers. These three ships are not alone but they are the biggest.

How many containers are lost each year

The last reliable figures we have are from the World Shipping Council and suggest that between 2008-2016 :

  • 568 containers were lost at sea each year from vessels afloat
  • 1582 containers were lost at sea each year including catastrophic events

Three Catastrophic events which show how vessels have changed. M.V.Rena ran aground and broke up in 2011. Total container losses resulted in 900 containers lost. M.V.MOL Comfort broke in half and sank in 2013 resulting in 5,578 containers lost at sea. M.V.EL Faro sank after being hit by a hurricane in 2013 resulting in 391 containers lost. This report details that this figure would have been much lower. 2013 and the MOL Comfort skew the figures with it’s total loss.

The volume of containers on any one ship in 2021 dwarves the vessel size in 2010 and there are major concerns that this has resulted in more container losses. Certainly 2021 has not had a great start to the year. With port congestion globally and container haulage issues when container do land at ports seafreight is a challenge.

What’s changed, have container losses increased

large container losses occurred when ships ran aground, sank or collisions. These days containers lost at sea causes are more wide-ranging and concerning. Some would argue that larger ships mean larger container losses. Take the Maersk Eindhoven, initial reports suggest that a safety system, cut an engine causing an engine stop. Propulsion cut out for around 4-5 minutes according to Maersk. Enough time to lose 260 containers and damage a further 65. The ship’s design carries 13,092 TEU. If fully laden it only lost 2% of it’s load.

This video gives you some idea of the scale of a containership in 2021.

Shippers risk to container loss

Here at Forwarders Matter we have a number of articles relating to general average and the need to insure goods travelling around the world. Any shipper unfortunate to have general average called on a ship where there cargo is onboard only ever makes that mistake once. Costs, delays, Administration. Recovering goods from a ship with general average called can be considerable.

We would also be asking the question. Have you chosen your forwarder based on price only and do you know how your cargo is moving. Reputable freight forwarders check cargo insured status. Shippers do you understand limited liability. If you are moving uninsured goods you must be aware of the risk. We would recommend this is not an area to cut costs. You may find it costs you more in the long run.

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