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August 10, 2017
Survey details container losses at sea each year
The World Shipping Council (WSC) released an update to its survey and estimate of containers lost at sea. WSC undertook the first survey of its member companies in 2011, with updates in 2014 and 2017.
Upon review of the results of the nine year period (2008-2016) surveyed, 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 data consistently demonstrates that container losses in any particular year can vary quite substantially based on differences in weather and other unusual events. The data also consistently shows that the majority of containers lost at sea result from catastrophic events. For example, in 2013, there was a total loss of 5,578 containers – 77% of which occurred with the sinking of the MOL Comfort in the Indian Ocean. The tragic total loss of vessel El Faro occurred two years later in 2015. All containers on the El Faro were lost and this event alone accounted for almost 43% of the total containers lost into the sea in 2015.
"Although the number of containers lost at sea represents a very small fraction of the number of containers carried on ships each year, the industry continuously strives to reduces those losses. The latest report shows that the average number of containers estimated to be lost each year is down from the estimates reported in 2014. This is an encouraging sign. The report also identifies initiatives the industry is actively supporting to increase container safety and reduce losses further," said John Butler, WSC President and CEO.
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