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one apus

A photo shows the ONE Apus as it arrived into view in Kobe, Japan, December 8, 2020, after losing more than 1,800 containers in the N. Pacific Ocean. Photo: Twitter @mrnkA4srnrA

New SOLAS Regulations on Reporting Containers Lost at Sea

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2116
June 3, 2024

The World Shipping Council (WSC) has praised the approval of the recently adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), requiring mandatory reporting of all containers lost at sea.

The amendments were ratified last month by the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee and are set to take effect from January 1, 2026. The changes aim to enhance maritime safety and environmental protection

The new regulations have clear provisions for both the reporting by the Master of the Ship and for reporting details. The Master of a ship involved in the loss of containers must immediately report specific details to nearby ships, the nearest coastal state, and the flag State. For containers lost at sea, reports must be made as soon as possible, with updates as additional information becomes available. For observed drifting containers, reports must include the position and total number of containers spotted drifting.

“The new regulations, specifically amending SOLAS Chapter V Regulations 31 and 32, mark a significant advancement in maritime safety and environmental protection,” says Lars Kjaer, SVP Safety & Security for WSC. “By ensuring prompt and detailed reporting of lost and drifting containers, these amendments will enhance navigational safety, facilitate swift response actions, and mitigate potential environmental hazards.”

The WSC has been gathering information on the number of containers lost at sea since 2008, with the data regularly published in the Containers Lost at Sea Report and submitted to the IMO. According to the latest report, the number of containers lost at sea fell to just 661 in 2022, out of 250 million transported, marking the lowest loss rate since the start of the survey in 2008.

However, yearly losses can vary widely due to significant loss incidents. For example, an unusually high number of weather-related incidents in 2020 and 2021 led to an average loss of 3,113 containers over those two years. Notably, the spike is attributed to significant container loss incidents in the Pacific Ocean, including the ONE Apus, which lost over 1,800 containers in severe weather in November 2020, and the Maersk Essen, which also experienced severe weather in 2021 leading to the loss of approximately 750 containers.

The average number of containers lost for the years 2020-2022 stood at 2,301 per year, a significant rise from the 779 lost on average each year during the previous three years (2017-2019).

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