The number of containers lost overboard from ships at sea has been on the decline, according to a recent report from the World Shipping Council (WSC).
The 661 containers lost at sea during 2022 is significantly lower that the average of 1,566 containers lost each year since 2008.
Lost containers in 2022 represents less than one thousandth of 1% (0.00026%) of the 250 million containers currently shipped each year, with cargo transported valued at more than $7 trillion.
“The reduction in containers lost at sea in 2022 is positive news, but there is no time for complacency. Every container lost at sea will always be one too many and we will continue with our efforts to make the sea a safer place to work, and to protect the environment and cargo by reducing the number of containers lost at sea,” said John Butler, President & CEO of the WSC.
Focus on improvement
The liner shipping industry has been working to further enhance container safety, partnering with governments and other stakeholders to reduce the number of containers lost at sea. WSC, several member lines and a range of maritime stakeholder started the MARIN Top Tier project in 2021. The research undertaken has delivered concrete data on the causes of containers overboard and how to prevent further incidents, WSC said. This includes training materials to raise awareness of the risk of various kinds of parametric rolling, as well as tools such as videos and calculators to help prevent and, if necessary, manage such dangerous situations.
TopTier research is currently taking place into container and lashing gear strength, stowage planning and optimization, guidelines for vessel operations, and voyage planning. More results are to come in the form of industry best practices, updated safety standards, and recommendations as the project enters its third and final year. TopTier will continue reporting on progress and to share insights on a regular basis on its website, through the IMO and in other forums.
On the regulatory side, there has been progress on two key regulatory efforts for container safety that WSC is engaged in at the IMO. The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 105) approved a revision of IMO’s guidelines for container inspection programs, among other clarifying that it applies to all cargo, adding guidance from the CTU Code, as well as inspections for visible pest contamination.
WSC for many years has been advocating mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea, and have contributed in the IMO CCC 8, to the development of a system for mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea. The proposal will be considered by MSC 107 in May-June this year. If approved, the system can be adopted at MSC 108 next spring, making international mandatory reporting requirements for containers lost as sea effective as of 2026.
Correct data plays an important part in the work to enhance container safety. As a part of our advocacy for mandatory international reporting of containers overboard, WSC has been reporting on the number of Containers Lost at Sea since 2011, with data starting 2008. Originally the Report was updated every three years. To provide more timely updates we have now increased the frequency of the Containers Lost at Sea Report and will, as of this year, survey members and report our findings on an annual basis.