New IMO measures to counter container losses

New IMO measures to counter container losses

The International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has adopted an updated procedure for the recognition and notification of lost containers, This is done in order to improve their identification, monitoring and return.

The UN maritime department, in turn, has defined a mandatory system for declaring the loss of containers and the installation of equipment on board, which will make it possible to quickly and conveniently determine the exact number of losses.

Lost containers at sea pose a potential threat to maritime safety and the environment, especially with regard to the plastics they contain. Between October last year and March this year, some 3,500 containers were lost in a series of incidents in the Western Pacific.

These numbers are much higher than the number that is usually recorded for the same period, and this raises concerns about the factors that led to these incidents.

Probable causes and solutions

The reasons that can lead to the loss of containers at sea are such circumstances as unfavorable meteorological conditions or high waves that create instability on board.

In addition, it is not easy to get accurate information on the number of lost containers also because visibility from the bridge is most likely reduced by the containers themselves, and it is possible to view only the upper tiers and the nearest compartments.

Therefore, when a relatively distant part of the containers may fall, it is rather difficult to instantly and correctly identify the number, circumstances and exact time of their fall. These episodes often take place during inclement weather conditions, which makes it impossible to immediately conduct an on-site investigation.

Over the next two years, IMO will develop appropriate measures in order, first of all, to reduce the risks and consequences of the loss of containers at sea and to restore the reliability and stability of container transport by the current fleet.

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