The Merchant Vessel MSC SHRISTI, a container ship traveling from Boston to the Dominican Republic, notified Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre via email on March 3rd that, while passing at approximately 350 nautical miles east of Bermuda, the ship had lost overboard a total of 46 empty shipping containers at three different times due to bad weather.
Containers being lost at sea from container ships, from barges, and from non-cellular vessels carrying containers is not an uncommon occurrance. There are several causes including incorrect container weight declarations by shippers, improper weight distributions in the stow, cargo misdeclarations, inadequate packing of cargo inside the containers, inadequate stowage plans, and inadequate cargo securing.
Container loss is a major issue that has been addressed by multiple factors. For instance, The Swedish and TT Clubs have done extensive research in the past to identify causes for container loss and advise ways to prevent the phenomenon.
According to a research report by The Swedish Club, common factors for container loss 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)
- Sailing through heavy weather
- Cargo not loaded as per the Cargo Securing Manual
- Misdeclared cargo
TT Club has highlighted it is important to:
- Frequently inspect the lashing equipment and sockets.
- Reject damaged containers and observe stevedore’s routines to make sure that securing equipment is handled well and returned to the vessel.
- Avoid using a mix of manual and semi-automatic twist locks and avoid storing left and right-hand twist locks together.
- Also, Parametric forces and stowage planning are key elements in loss prevention.
- Training on the hydrodynamic phenomena due to high-beam seas.
- Encourage vessels to have instruments providing insight into roll motions and accelerations; and the technical possibilities for detecting container loss.
- Frequently review stowage methods and passage planning.
- Daily examination of the lashing bars tensions and tightness of turnbuckles.
Furthermore, MARIN’s TopTier project was initiated in order to figure out how to prevent accidents from happening again in the future after a series of incidents with exceptional container losses occurred during the winter season of 2020–2021. According to MARIN, the initiative will identify and suggest advancements for the next ten years that are backed by both the maritime sector and the agencies in charge of general safety. As a result, the project helps to create an environment that is secure and fair.
MSC had taken precaution on container loss last year by signing a contract to implement DNV’s Anti-Roll Assist system and Anti-Roll for Containerships (ARCS) notation. The contract covered dozens of newbuildings, ships in operation, and vessels to be constructed, ranging in size from 1,800 to MSC’s largest vessels at some 24,000 TEU.