Ocean Network Express said Wednesday the number of lost or damaged containers from a vessel en route to the Port of Long Beach, California, “could exceed 1,900.”
It’s a jaw-dropping sum — more than the average number of containers lost in an entire year from all vessels around the globe. And the accident comes during the last rush to get Chinese exports into U.S. consumers’ hands before Christmas.
It’s too early to know the contents of the lost containers. But Henry Byers, FreightWaves’ maritime market expert, said the top importers using ONE as their ocean carrier into Long Beach the past 30 days were Flexport International, MOL Consolidation, Topocean Consolidation, UPS Ocean Freight Services, DHL Global Forwarding, Kuehne + Nagel and C.H. Robinson. Other ONE customers through Long Beach include Penguin Random House, Wilson Sporting Goods and Hasbro.
According to a “container incident” online information center, the ONE Apus was en route from Yantian, China, to Long Beach at about 11:15 p.m. Monday when it “encountered a violet storm cell producing gale-force winds and large swells, which caused the ONE Apus to roll heavily, resulting in the dislodging of the lost containers” approximately 1,600 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii.
Nick Austin, FreightWaves’ director of weather analytics and senior meteorologist, said he could find no National Weather Service reports on the storm.
Austin said a storm cell “is usually very localized, not covering a large area like a typhoon or hurricane.”
An update from ONE on Wednesday said that “early investigations on board the ONE Apus have determined that the impacted container bays remain unsafe for close-quarter inspections. However, it is estimated that the number of lost or damaged units could exceed 1,900, of which some 40 are believed to be [dangerous goods] containers.”
The U.S.-bound containers that survived the accident are now headed back to Asia. ONE said Wednesday the Apus is sailing toward Japan, “with plans to seek a suitable port to right unstable containers, assess any damages and determine the exact numbers of containers lost.”
On Thursday, ONE confirmed the Apus was sailing for the Port of Kobe, Japan, with an estimated arrival of Tuesday.
“Once berthed, it’s expected to take some time to offload the dislodged containers that remain on board. Then a thorough assessment will be made on the exact number and type of containers that have been lost or damaged,” ONE said.
The Apus is 364 meters long and 51 meters wide and has a carrying capacity of 14,052 twenty-foot equivalent units. The registered owner of the Apus is Chidori Ship Holding LLC, and the listed manager is NYK Shipmanagement. ONE is the charterer of the vessel, which was built in only 2019.
According to the World Shipping Council, container losses actually are few and far between. In fact, a WSC report issued in July said an average of only 1,382 containers were lost at sea per year between 2008 and 2019.
One of the highest-profile cases this year was the loss of 50 containers from the APL England off the coast of Australia in late May. The master of the container ship was charged in Australia for not ensuring the vessel was operated in a manner to prevent pollution of the marine environment.