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Ships deploy 130m containers, lift $4 trillion cargoes globally

Cargo Ship

• 1360 containers lost at sea 

The shipping industry contributed immensely to global trade in 2016 with estimated value of more than $4 trillion cargoes lifted during the year. The World Shipping Council (WSC) in its latest report analysing Containers Lost At Sea (2017 Update) revealed that the international liner shipping industry transported the cargoes through 130 million containers to various destinations across the globe.  
  
Meanwhile, an estimated average of 612 containers were lost at sea excluding catastrophic events, while the total containers lost at sea including catastrophic events averaged 1,390 during the period. 
 
The report, which studied events through 2014, 2015 and 2016, said the latest lost represents about 48 per cent reduction from the average total losses of 2,683 estimated in 2014.  
  
According to the World Shipping Council, proper packing, stowage and securing of containers and reporting of correct weight is very important to the safety of a container ship, its crew and its cargo, to shore-based workers and equipment, and to the environment.
  
“However, 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,” it stated.  
 
Making reference to the 2014 survey, WSC estimated that there were approximately 733 containers lost at sea on average for each of these three years, not counting catastrophic events.  When one includes catastrophic losses, the average annual loss for the period was approximately 2,683 containers.   
  
“This larger number in 2014 is due primarily to two factors: the complete loss in 2013 of the MOL Comfort in the Indian Ocean and all of the 4,293 containers on board – which remains the worst containership loss in history; 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. Both of these incidents involved complete and total vessel losses.   
  
“The most recent 2017 survey gathered input for 2014, 2015 and 2016. …For each of the three years surveyed, the average number of containers lost at sea excluding catastrophic events was 612, 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 per cent of those lost being attributed to catastrophic events.  This is a 48per cent reduction from the average annual total losses of 2,683 estimated in 2014.  
  
“While containers lost overboard represent about one thousandth of 1% of the roughly 130 million container loads shipped each year,” it stated.The industry, according to WSC has been actively supporting a number of efforts to enhance container safety that should help reduce the number of containers lost at sea, through the Amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention; Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU); Revised ISO standards for container lashing equipment and corner castings among others.

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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. The container shipping industry’s goal remains to keep the loss of containers carried on those ships as close to zero as possible.  Carriers will continue to explore and implement preventative and realistic measures to achieve that goal. 

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