• Bar chart: WSC

10.07.2024 By: Andreas Haug

Artikel Nummer: 50327

Only one out of 1,131,222 containers

Ever fewer boxes lost at sea. A subjective impression may be wrong. Even though it felt as if the maritime shipping industry was dominated by unpredictable climatic conditions, piracy and terrorism, container shipping was never as safe as it was last year. According to the World Shipping Council, only 221 of the around 250,000,000 boxes transported in 2023 were lost at sea. One third thereof was even recovered again.

A year ago, the World Shipping Council (WSC) reported the lowest number of containers lost at sea in a year, in terms of a percentage of the total number transported, ever since the organisation started to collect the data in 2008. In 2022, 661 boxes were missing after ships docked in port, which equates to one in 378,215.


This figure was significantly lower in 2023. At a mere 221 units the total number of lost containers was the lowest ever, equating to one in 1,131,222 boxes. This means that the vast majority of all goods transported in containers, which are estimated to be worth no less than approximately USD 7 trillion, travel safely across the world’s oceans.


These figures represent a rather positive trend for the WSC, which was founded in the year 2000 and whose 20 members represent about 90% of global container shipping capacity. In fact, the three-year moving average of 1,061 boxes lost at sea per year is relatively high at the moment because of a temporary spike during the outbreak of Covid-19.


However, the WSC also pointed out that most of its members lost none or less than ten containers last year, with only one shipping line reporting more than 100 boxes lost. “Nevertheless, this is no time for complacency, and we will continue our work to reduce the number of containers lost,” the WSC said, adding that working for greater safety is a task that never ends.


Every container lost at sea is one too many, the WSC is convinced, and thus urges the industry to remain proactive and maintain its commitment to ensuring that protocols and preventive measures are adhered to.


“A task that never ends”


The ‘Marin top tier joint industry project’, which was initiated in May 2021, and set to last three years, has done a lot of work in this field. It has produced concrete findings on the causes of boxes going overboard and recommendations and training material on how to avoid various types of dangerous rolling movements.


A final report based on extensive research and analysis is expected later this year, with best practices, updated safety measures, container and lashing standards and regulatory recommendations.


The WSC also supports the reporting requirement for lost containers adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in May, which will come into force on 1 January 2026. Another WSC initiative is preparing a manual on securing cargo at sea.



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