In its most recent membership survey regarding containers lost at sea, the World Shipping Council found that the average number of containers lost between 2014 and 2016 was down about 16 percent from the previous three-year period.
Roughly 600 shipping containers were lost at sea annually between 2014 and 2016, according to the results of a new survey by the World Shipping Council (WSC).
In its most recent survey of its membership regarding containers lost at sea, the council found that the average number of containers lost at sea, excluding catastrophic events was 612, which is about 16 percent less than the average of 733 units lost each year for the previous three-year period.
However, when catastrophic losses are included, the total containers lost at sea averaged 1,390 the past three years, with 56 percent of those lost being attributed to catastrophic events. WSC defines catastrophic events as a loss overboard of 50 or more containers in a single incident.
The number represents a 48 percent drop from the average annual total losses of 2,683 estimated in 2014 alone.
Based on the most recent survey results, the WSC said it estimates that for the combined nine-year period from 2008 to 2016, there were 568 containers lost at sea each year on average, not counting catastrophic events, and 1,582 containers lost at sea each year including catastrophic events.
On average, 64 percent of containers lost during that nine-year period were attributed to a catastrophic event, according to WSC data.
“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,” WSC President and CEO John Butler said.
WSC undertook the first survey of its member companies in 2011, with the initial survey covering the years 2008 through 2010. The updates in 2014 and 2017 also covered the preceding three-year period.
In each of the three surveys, WSC member companies were asked to report the number of containers lost overboard for the preceding three years. For the 2017 report, all WSC member companies responded and together, they represent 80 percent of the total global vessel container capacity, according to the Shipping Council.
Regarding the 20 percent of member companies that did not respond, WSC said that it assumed for analysis purposes that their container losses would be roughly the same as those of the 80 percent that did respond.
Based on the 2011 survey results, the World Shipping Council estimated that on average there were about 350 containers lost at sea each year during the 2008-2010 timeframe, not counting catastrophic events. When catastrophic losses are counted, an average annual total loss per year of about 675 containers was estimated for the three-year period.
In the 2014 survey, WSC received reports from carriers on losses during 2011, 2012 and 2013. From those results, WSC estimated that there were about 733 containers lost at sea on average for each of the three years, minus catastrophic events.
When catastrophic losses are included, the average annual loss for the period was about 2,683 containers. The large number was due primarily to two factors, the WSC said, with one being the complete loss of the MOL Comfort in the Indian Ocean in 2013 and 4,293 containers on board – which remains the worst containership loss in history.
The second reason was the 2011, the grounding and loss of the M/V Rena off New Zealand, which resulted in a loss overboard of roughly 900 containers. Both incidents resulted in complete and total vessel losses.
Overall, the number of containers lost overboard each year represent about one thousandth of one percent of the roughly 130 million container loads shipped, according to the WSC.