Skip to main content


Who is happy to see 10,000 containers lost each year ?

The data for this Post came from one of our European correspondents who sent NAUTICAL LOG TT Talk Edition 136. It is from this article that we shall be quoting freely because frankly it is not something that we had addressed previously. Comments on the causes are based on the personal experience of NAUTICAL LOG serving as Chief Officer and Master in container ships.

In a recent European Parliament debate the number 10,000 containers lost each year was quoted. Surprisingly the shipping lines and the insurers seemed content to accept this figure and do nothing about it. While there are some questions by Insurers as to the validity of the number "lost" it is clear that containers go missing. The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) suggested that shipping lines and insurers be held responsible for the after effect of non-chemical toxic releases into European waters. The reasons cited for lost containers involved poor stowage by those involved in loading and lashings released prior to entering port.

Another reason suggested during debate was that of containers being mis-declared that were overweight. Mis-declaration of the cargo mass is a serious problem and MEPs demanded that containers were weighted at the port prior to loading.

This caught the eye of NAUTICAL LOG because some years ago when Chief Officer of a container ship operating from three US ports and one Canadian port to eleven ports in West Africa there was a continual problem in one particular port. After discharge of empties and high value loaded containers from Zaire, West Africa we would commence next voyage loading. All usually went quite well in the US ports, however when we went to our Canadian port - Halifax - the problems began. It was clear that the Halifax containers were all overweight some to the point that the ships gear, which was used during cargo operations there, was under excessive strain. It was of course quite easy to work out a containers true weight from the stability calculations. Finally one voyage we, the Master, Chief Officer and Chief Engineer, had had enough and refused to load the cargo as offered. Of course all hell broke loose and the ship remained in port overnight. The end result was it was agreed that the containers were indeed excessively overloaded. They were stripped and restuffed to the correct weight causing an overall three day stay in port. For the remaining year of the contract we had no further problems with overloaded containers in the Port Of Halifax. One might note that during the entire two year contract we had no "lost" containers, which is no mean feat when running to West Africa !!

On January 01, 2011 the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code (IMSBC Code) comes into force. This Code is the former Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (BC Code). The new Code is aligned with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code) and will be similarly regularly revised.

Well it will be interesting to see how things go under this IMSBC Code and if the true number of "lost" containers can be more accurately tracked and decreases from that 10,000.

Good Watch.


Popular posts from this blog


It sometimes happens that one is going to write a Post on a subject when lo and behold there is already an excellent one.  Such is the case today; so rather than repeat everything let me refer you to the source of that Post

At present we are experiencing Perigean Spring Tides which occur when the Moon is at perigee on its oval path that is the closest point to Earth.  One of the principal results are higher than usual Spring Tides as against the Neap Tides.

Should you be interested in the full explanation of this phenomenon then you might like to reference "Old Salt Blog" which has an excellent explanation of this event and uses all the correct terms - quite unlike our Media here in South Florida.

Good Watch.


In addition to the recent "Standing Down" of training voyages for its Midshipersons the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) has received warnings about the quality, or lack thereof, of its training programme.  The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE) report stated that accreditation was in jeopardy for non-compliance in certain areas.

Coupled with the continuing problems requiring disciplinary actions including dismissal from the Navy the United States Navy (USN) has had in recent years this does not bode well for the professionalism of the seafaring community of the United States.

It is clear to this writer, an International Master Mariner with 50 years of experience, that the training sources for both Officers and Ratings need an immediate complete examination and review.  Currently the Officer commanding riverine craft based in Bahrain has been dismissed.  Another nine Officers and Ratings are under disciplinary action as a result of the capture by…


NAUTICAL LOG has on previous occasions discussed the SS El Faro VDR in a Post titled RELUCTANCE TO RECOVER and two other Posts about the VDR (Voyage Data Recorder) of the SS El Faro

The Ship sank in Hurricane Joaquin on October 01, 2015 off the Bahamas.  There has seemed to be a reluctance by all parties involved to continue the attempt to recover the VDR from some 15,000 feet - admittedly a considerable depth.  However because of the importance of possible data on the recorder such an attempt must be made.

Finally the NTSB has contracted with the USN Supervisor of Salvage to assist in the recovery of the VDR.  The USNS Apache will depart in early July 2016 together with USCG, Phoenix International and an underwater operating vehicle the CURV-21.

Once the VDR is recovered it will be brought ashore to the NTSB laboratory and thoroughly studied to download and analyze the information.  With these results in hand the USCG will conduct a two hearings to investigate the sinking and questio…