Maritime Statistics: Containers lost at sea in 2023


( Every container lost at sea is one too many. In addition to possible harm to crew, polluting sea and shores, they can pose an accident risk.

In total 221 containers were lost at sea in 2023, out of 250 million transported. Of the containers lost, about 33% were recovered.

This represents the lowest losses since the start of the survey in 2008, and a significant improvement on the previous lowest-ever loss of 661 containers in 2022.

The numbers indicate a positive trend of increasing container safety, as well as improved navigational safety and vessel routing.

The Marin TopTier Joint Industry Project has contributed concrete outcomes on the causes of containers overboard together with recommendations and training material on how to avoid and manage different kinds of dangerous parametric rolling and is poised later this year to publish its final report with conclusions and recommendations arising from its extensive scientific research and results analyses in the form of industry best practices, updated safety, container and lashing standards, guidance and recommendations for regulatory updates.

There is no time for complacency and we will continue our work to reduce the number of containers lost at sea. Safety is a job that never stops, and every container lost at sea will always be one too many.

The responsibility for container safety is shared across the supply chain:

  • The shipper, packer and freight forwarder are responsible for the container being packed, braced and stowed safely in accordance with the CTU Code, that the contents shipped are safe and free from visible pest contamination, and that the gross mass of the packed container is verified and together with the contents are correctly declared to the carrier in accordance with applicable timelines.

  • The carrier must ensure that containers are secured in the hold in racks and lashed together with steel bars and locks to be secure and stable. Container vessels are designed to transport containers safely and many precautions are taken to avoid that container are lost or dislodged even if under extreme stress.

But despite all precautions rough weather, incendiary cargo or other incidents can cause containers to be lost overboard. In addition to possible harm to crew, polluting sea and shores, containers lost at sea can pose an accident risk.

To reduce the number of containers lost at sea, WSC and several member lines partnered in the MARINE Top Tier study. This project aims to - based on scientific analyses, studies, and desktop as well as real-life measurements - develop specific, actionable and effective recommendations. Initial results from the study show that parametric rolling in following seas is especially hazardous for container vessels, a phenomenon that is not well known and can develop unexpectedly with severe consequences.

To prevent further incidents due to various forms of parametric rolling, training materials and tools have been developed in the form of:

  • A Notice to Mariners, describing how container vessel crew and operational staff can plan, recognize and act to prevent parametric rolling in following seas

  • A series of videos to build awareness of the various kinds of parametric and resonant rolling that can occur and how the vessel behaves

  • A Roll Risk Estimator tool which allows crew to calculate the risk of parametric rolling based on sea and weather conditions as well as vessel specifics

Research is currently taking place into container and lashing gear strength, guidelines for vessel operations, optimizing stowage and voyage planning, and what additional measures should be recommended. In addition to the regularly updated website, the TopTier project has updated the IMO Maritime Safety Committee through presentations and submissions (MSC 106/INF.16), and will continue to report and share insights on a regular basis.

Since 2011, the World Shipping Council (WSC) has undertaken a survey of its members to
accurately estimate the number of containers that are lost at sea each year. The WSC’s member companies operate more than 90% of the global containership capacity; thus, a survey of their losses provides a valid basis for a meaningful estimate of the total number of containers lost at sea. This 2023 update adds information from the year 2022.


For more info, you can read the full report below:



Source: World Shipping Council



For more resources and Guidance papers on containership safety, click HERE



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