US Authorities Monitoring 76 Containers Lost from Maersk Ship Off North Carolina

This is bullshit. Why are taxpayers stuck with picking up the tab for improperly secured cargo. The operator who contracted to deliver the cargo and lost it is responsible.

Didn’t the article say that Maersk has a plan to salvage the containers or at least check that they won’t pose a hazard to navigation, and has already contracted a salvage company? In the meantime, the CG appears to be carrying out one of their statutory missions…

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According latest jurisprudence the Master is 100% responsible for everything aboard, incl. securing deck cargo, and should therefore be jailed at once. Compare Exxon Valdez, Prestige, Costa Concordia, etc.

Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City crews, Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft crews and aircraft crews contracted by the shipping company have conducted multiple overflights, locating nine containers on the surface. At present, only two of the nine sighted containers remain floating.

Some are contracted by Maersk.

I doubt it cost the taxpayers much to monitor them, the salaries of the staff would have to be paid regardless and they’d use a lot of fuel doing training, any extra it costs in overtime and extra fuel could always be charged back to maersk with a little extra service fee, so the tax payer could actually save money out of it potentially.

Please go away. We already have a resident troll

I take it you are referring to the CG’s mission regarding hazards to navigation. Where does it say they are responsible for picking up the tab when ship operators fail to use due diligence?

The press release does state that Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City crews contracted by the shipping company have conducted multiple overflights however I’ve never heard of a mechanism allowing for the contracting of a federal agency by the private sector. If it exists and if tax payers can save money out of such incidents, I’m all ears and if you can provide precedents I’ll stand corrected.

Where do you draw the line when the CG should just stand aside and watch the events unfold?

When containers fall off a barge it’s almost always the result of inadequate lashings. Why are lashings inadequate? Usually because of incompetent attempts to reduce lashing costs. Bad management , bad Longshoremen, bad surveyors, bad crew, and bad weather, and the need to get away from an exposed position before bad weather strikes are sometimes factors.

In my experience, most containers sink quickly. I’ve never stayed around very long to watch, but reports from others suggest that very few containers stay afloat for more than 24 hours. I can see where a container full of styrofoam might stay afloat for a long time in good weather.

I have very rarely encountered floating containers at sea or washed up on the beach. I’m convinced that 99 percent sink within a few days.

Adequate lashing is essential. A reasonable fine of say $10,000 per lost container might help.

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I am not suggesting that the CG should stand aside. I am suggesting that the public purse should not be used to subsidize careless behavior on the part of ship operators. There are solutions. The design features used on the ACL Atlantic Star are an example.

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As for Containers floating for a longtime, I seem to remember one that washed up on the PNW that was found to have come from Japan after the Tsunami. IIRC, it had a Harley inside it. So, if that one made it all the way across, I have to wonder how many are floating around on the surface or just under the surface.

Containers are heavy and have no inherent buoyancy. Nearly all containers suffer enough damage going overboard to leak immediately and sink very quickly. Most undamaged floating containers filled with shifting cargo and being tossed about by the sea will become leaky soon enough.

I don’t doubt that a few containers float for a very long time, but it’s damn few.

The software I use aboard ship has gotten more sophisticated recently. As the virtual ship advances along the proposed track on the screen a simulation of the ship’s motion can be seen.

What’s happening is when ships are routed the software simulations are used to cut closer to bad weather, weave between the lows at max allowable motion. These ships are not getting hammered by weather because the forecast are poor, they are getting hammered because they are so good. Running with way less margin for error.


These observations were made before the current crop of 20,000 TEU ships:

“The physics of taller stacks require new innovations to adequately secure them. While transport capacity per ship grew from 4,000 to 15,000 TEU over a period of only 15 years, design principles and securing methods remained largely unchanged (MARIN 2009).”
“Stacking height: With each new generation of container ship, the stacking height has increased. Stacks may now be up to nine containers high below deck and eight tiers high above deck (AIMU 2008). Current vessel designs have up to three-quarters of their containers on deck (VMI 2011). A publication of the Standard P&I Club and Lloyd’s Register states “if one container in a stack fails, it is likely that the entire stack will collapse” (Murdoch and Tozer 2006). Commonly, a lashing or overloading problem with one container stack will lead to interactions with other container stacks and unexpected high loads in the securing system, rendering it less effective (MARIN 2009). Other problems associated with high deck loadings include reduced ship stability, interference with visibility from the bridge, increased exposure of the cargo to storms and seas, and difficult maneuverability at slow speeds due to excessive wind impacts (AIMU 2008). These problems are compounded when containers are stacked high at the bow and stern of the ship, where accelerations and forces are at their greatest.”
“Failure to adapt course to weather conditions: Waves can cause ships to roll, sway, pitch, surge, yaw and heave, subjecting container stacks to strong accelerations and extreme motions, such as parametric rolling (MARIN 2009). When combined with the effects of strong winds, these movements can place the containers and securing gear under high stress. Bow slamming can also occur when large waves break over the bow of the ship A study of container loss in the Bay of Biscay and its approaches found that of 1,251 containers lost in 158 incidents from 1992-2008, 83% were lost between the months of November and February when sea conditions are roughest. Crew failure to take precautionary measures (changing course early) can place the ship in a risky situation. Once heading and speed become difficult to control, heavy rolling is occurring, and green water is on deck, few alternatives remain and accidents are likely (AIMU 2008).”

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On the subject of a hazard to navigation, Containors are unlikely to be too much of a problem to large modern ships. To small yachts they are lethal.

So this it the perfect time for a racing fleet of very small boats to be heading towards the affected area. The Jester Challenge is leaving Plymouth for The East Coast USA in a short while.

To those who have not heard of it, The Jester Challenge is a solo yachting rally/race from England to USA for boats under 24 feet long. It was started by Blondie Haslar in the mid 50’s. He is the Comando who lead a raid of a dozen canoes into the port of Bordeaux during WW2.

Similarly, during the last Vendee Globe race, nearly 1/3 of the racing fleet were affected by hitting some under water object. Obviously some may have been whales, but others were probably containers.

Don’t ask me why people do that sort of thing because I have not idea.

“To small yachts they are lethal.”

I have a special interest in this one because the Shanghai lost its boxes where a lot of us go fishing in small boats and while the odds of running into a container may be slim, it’s still a possibility. At 30 knots in a fiber glass hull, you can bet I’m keeping my eyes peeled.

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