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Wednesday 15 August 2012

How many containers REALLY get lost at sea?

(You are getting this note because you subscribed to The Shipping Blokes Blog by Brad Skelton)

Frequently in the media I hear statistics quoted that up to 10,000 containers are lost overboard  at sea each year.  In these modern times, why does it happen at all?

A number of factors ranging from severe weather and rough seas to catastrophes like the ships themselves getting lost at sea just like the "Rena" (pictured off the coast of New Zealand) contribute to the losses. Safe stowage can also be compromised by shippers overloading containers although progressively most countries are following the International Maritime Organisations agenda to have the weight of all containers properly verified before loading.

As for the reliability of the data....there is isn't central source keeping track of this nor do the marine underwriters compile or publish any accurate statistics. The World Shipping Council has surveyed it's member shipping lines to try and find out how many containers are actually lost. It was radically different to what media outlets sensationally suggest. 

Not counting catastrophic events the survey revealed a figure of only 350 containers being lost each year. If you include catastrophic losses like the "Rena" then the number only rose to 675. A far cry from 10,000! Considering the millions shipped each year that's not too bad.

So the yachties of the world are safer than they think, my clients can probably sleep tonight and so can their underwriters. I still recommend you get insurance though!!

All for now,
Brad Skelton
The Shipping Bloke


  1. Yet, international container shipping appears to be one of the safest modes of transport. Regardless of the accidents you're talking about, the statistics are way lower than it is the case with road freight, for instance.

  2. That's crazy. I wonder how many valuable stuff is lost because of this shipping containers sinking.


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