Once again a large container ship has lost a large number of containers in heavy weather. This time it was the Maersk Essen, which lost some 750 containers in the middle of the North Pacific.
Maersk confirmed the incident after four days, but provided few details. According to the Maritime Executive, the incident probably took place about 1000 kilometres northeast of the US Midway, the famous atoll that lies almost exactly halfway between the US west coast and the Asian east coast.
The 13,100-TEU Danish-flagged ship had left Xiamen, China, on 26 December and was heading for Los Angeles. It is sailing on Maersk’s TP6 route between East Asia and North America. Maersk refers to heavy weather, but gives no information about the wind force and wave height.
In a statement, the Danish shipping company says it considers the container loss ‘a very serious situation that will be immediately and thoroughly investigated’. The group also says it has informed all relevant authorities, including the US Coast Guard and the Danish Shipping Inspectorate.
According to the British damage assessment agency WK Webster, it is very likely that there are a large number of damaged containers on board.This was also the case on the MSC Zoe, which lost some 340 containers in heavy weather two years ago, north of the Dutch Wadden Islands. This was also the case on the MSC Zoe, which lost some 340 containers in heavy weather two years ago, north of the Wadden Islands. The Maersk Essen is expected in Los Angeles on 22 January.
In recent months, two similar cases of container loss have occurred on the North Pacific. On 30 November, the mega-container ship ONE Apus lost around 1800 containers some 3000 kilometres northwest of Hawaii. At the beginning of November, the ONE Aquila, also on the North Pacific, probably lost more than 100 containers.
This series of events contradicts a report by the World Shipping Council from last summer. The report states that the number of lost containers has fallen sharply in recent years and that they represent a tiny percentage of the total number of containers carried. According to the interest group, in the last three years, an average of only 800 containers has been lost overboard each year.
This article first appeared in Dutch on Nieuwsblad Transport, a publication of SWZ|Maritime’s publishing partner Promedia.
Picture by Andy Nunn.