Fewest containers lost at sea in 2023: WSC report

Photo shows stacks of containers collapsed on board Madrid Bridge while at the Charleston Anchorage, January 20, 2022.
A new report by the World Shipping Council (WSC) reveals that the number of containers lost at sea will hit a record low in 2023. The annual report shows only 221 out of 250 million containers were lost at sea last year, a vast improvement from previous years. CEO John Butler emphasized the need for continued prevention efforts.
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The World Shipping Council’s annual report indicates that the number of containers lost at sea reached an all-time low in 2023, with only 221 out of an estimated 250 million containers being lost. This marks a significant improvement from the previous record low of 661 containers lost in 2022, with about a third of the lost containers being recovered. However, the Council’s CEO, John Butler, emphasizes that while this is a positive development, efforts to prevent container losses must continue to be a top priority.

Initiatives like the Marin TopTier Joint Industry Project are working to improve maritime transport safety by investigating the reasons behind containers going overboard and developing mitigation strategies. New reporting requirements for containers lost at sea, set to come into effect in 2026, aim to enhance navigational safety, facilitate rapid response measures, and reduce environmental risks. The WSC is also expected to update safety guidelines, including the SOLAS Convention and the CTU Code.

The World Shipping Council has been tracking container losses at sea since 2011, with data dating back to 2008. The report will now be issued annually as part of efforts to establish mandatory international reporting of containers lost overboard. Annual container losses can fluctuate significantly due to major incidents and weather conditions, such as the notable MV Rena and MOL Comfort incidents in 2011 and 2013, as well as weather-related incidents in 2020 and 2021.

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