Maersk Ship Loses 750 Containers Overboard in Pacific Ocean
By Costas Paris
A cargo ship operated by A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S lost several
hundred containers in the Pacific Ocean while sailing through heavy
seas from China to Los Angeles, the latest in a spate of incidents
in which boxes carrying millions of dollars' worth of goods have
The company said the Maersk Essen, which has capacity for more
than 13,000 containers, lost an estimated 750 of them on January 16
about halfway through its trans-Pacific sailing from China's Port
"All crew members are safe and a detailed cargo assessment is
ongoing while the vessel continues on her journey," Maersk said in
a statement on Thursday. "The U.S. Coast Guard, flag state and
relevant authorities have been notified. We view this as a very
serious situation which will be investigated promptly and
thoroughly." A.P. Moller-Maersk is based in Copenhagen and the ship
carries a Danish flag.
Several container ships have lost large numbers of boxes
overboard in recent months in a spurt of accidents that maritime
industry officials say had been declining.
The One Apus container vessel, operated by Singapore-based Ocean
Network Express, lost around 2,000 boxes in November when it hit a
storm off Hawaii on its way to Long Beach, Calif., from Yantian,
China. The ship eventually sailed to Kobe, Japan, with hundreds of
tipped-over containers sitting precariously onboard and remains
there for repairs and an investigation into the cause of the
People involved in the investigations said insurance claims from
the One Apus could reach more than $220 million.
Losing boxes in harsh weather is relatively rare, but incidents
this winter have been on the rise, especially in the Pacific.
Earlier this month, 76 containers fell off a vessel operated by
Israel's ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. en route from South
Korea to North America. On Dec. 31, a boxship managed by Taiwan's
Evergreen Marine Corp. Ltd. lost around 40 containers off the coast
of Japan while heading across the Pacific.
Engineers involved in the probes say they are looking into
typical causes like failures in lashing systems that hold
containers together. But as ships become bigger and containers are
stacked high as multistory buildings, a vessel's stability may come
under greater pressure from pitching and rolling.
"It's called parametric rolling and can happen when waves don't
hit the bow head-on, but at an angle. The ship goes into a rolling
motion in sync with the waves which, combined with the ship's
normal pitching as it steams ahead, can displace cargo," said Fotis
Pagoulatos, an Athens-based naval architect.
Maritime officials say ship operators are looking at installing
sensors that could issue warnings on sea conditions to avoid
"The higher you stack the boxes on deck, the larger the forces
they are subjected to when the vessel moves in waves, and this
could be a contributing factor, especially as the recent demand
boom has meant filling all ships to the brim," said Lars Jensen,
chief executive of Denmark-based SeaIntelligence Consulting.
Yiannis Sgouras, a veteran Greek captain, said the threat can
come without warning, even when waves aren't very high. "If you
don't catch it early on and change course, the ship can roll from
side to side as it steams forward and things fall over," he
Maritime insurance executives said roughly 3,000 containers have
been lost at sea over the past two months.
The World Shipping Council, a Washington-based trade body
representing liner companies, said in a report last July that
between 2008 and 2019 on average 1,382 containers were lost at sea
Write to Costas Paris at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 21, 2021 14:16 ET (19:16 GMT)
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