By and large container shippers like their boxes to arrive at their destinations, so do shipping lines, it isn’t just a matter of financial loss and inconvenience. Boxes that fall off ships can remain afloat for six months, a hazard to navigation and potential threats to the environment. But how many boxes are actually out there?
Nobody seems to know for sure. Although the Through Transport Club says that less than two thousand boxes are lost every year a figure of 10,000 is often cited in the press and elsewhere, a number which the World Shipping Council strongly disputes.
Given the ever increasing size of containerships the chances are that while the number of vessels losing boxes may get smaller the number lost in single incidents, like that of MOL Comfort and MSC Napoli could increase. The biggest single loss so far is that of the Svendborg Maersk which lost 520 containers in storms in the Bay of Biscay in February this year.