Swedish Club issued a paper focusing on the importance of securing the containers correctly, highlighting the proper use of equipment such as turnbuckles, lashing bars and different types of twistlocks.
Immediate causes of container loss
The Club’s claims statistics show that the main reason is related to container vessels navigating in heavy weather combined with a failure of the crew to reduce speed and/or alter course to either avoid it or alleviate its effect.
Other common factors are:
- Containers not being correctly stuffed or declared by the shipper
- Containers not being loaded as per the stowage plan
- Containers not secured in accordance with the Cargo Securing Manual (CSM)
- Lashing strengths not checked against the loading computer’s lashing module
- The vessel being too stiff with an excessive GM (Metacentric Height)
The costliest claims are related to container vessels navigating in heavy weather. Avoiding heavy weather and ensuring the cargo is properly secured is paramount. Exercising good seamanship when vessels navigate in or near areas of heavy weather will assist in preventing incidents and their associated high cost.
Loading and securing
The loading and securing of containers are usually performed by the port stevedores. A concern during loading is that stevedores secure containers with lashing equipment that has deteriorated.
It is important that all lashing equipment is in good condition and that any items in poor condition are removed to prevent further use. The Master is responsible for the safe loading of the vessel in accordance with ISM and SOLAS regulations. Before departure, the crew should also verify that the cargo has been secured correctly.
- Sailing through heavy weather is the most common immediate cause for containers being lost overboard. Using weather routeing will improve the situation. Reducing speed and altering course will also help.
- When preparing a vessel for sea it is essential that the cargo is loaded as per the Cargo Securing Manual, which provides guidance on the stowage and securing of containers and nonstandardised cargo.
- In many of the cases that The Swedish Club has dealt with, an excessive GM has been one of the contributing factors. Particular attention must be paid to the vessel’s GM when sailing through heavy weather.
- Misdeclared cargo is a common cause of lost containers and can lead to major losses.