Damage Cost: Shipping Containers Lost at Sea

Posted : 11/15/12 10:28 AM

After bulk cargo, shipping containers account for around 90% of all of the goods transported into the world. There are currently over 5 million shipping containers in transit on the world’s oceans carrying all of the consumer items that we buy and use in everyday life. Every year about 10,000 of these containers, or about one every hour, are lost at sea and depending on its contents the container can either become an environmental hazard or a danger to other shipping. While this is a tiny percentage of the total number of containers that are shipped each year it comes at an estimated cost of $370 million which adds significantly to freight costs overall. However there are also other costs associated with losing shipping containers to the sea. Most containers that have fallen overboard are lost in storms, and the majority sink, often the rough weather breaks them up but occasionally they remain intact and form the basis of new reefs. On the surface this seems okay but many containers contain toxic substances which gradually leach into the environment over time having a long term adverse effect. It is also thought that these new artificial reefs may be creating highways in the shipping lanes for the migration of species into environmentally sensitive areas. Even though most containers do sink there are still tens of thousands that will float and which often present dangers to other shipping in the sea lanes. The potential for smaller ships and pleasure craft to collide with these loose containers increases every year but they are difficult to find and salvage. Floating containers also often wash up on shore and get broken up to create another kind of environmental hazard. Even though containers have these drawbacks they remain the most efficient means yet devised for bulk transit of goods and their introduction greatly reduced freight losses at sea. There are current studies underway which is examining ways to improve the design of containers as well as to find better ways to locate and salvage them to minimize both the financial losses and the environmental damage that they cause. In the future shipping containers may be designed to float and may be easily trackable using inexpensive GPS technology, making the task of finding potentially hazardous cargo that has been lost at sea easier. For more information you can contact http://www.bmishipping.com/ to discuss all of your shipping container needs.