Lost containers and danger

Feb 20, 2014
File photo of containers on Svendborg Maersk.

File photo of containers on Svendborg Maersk.

Maersk Lines

The Maersk Line shipping company has released updated information regarding the loss of shipping containers from its vessel Svendborg Maersk during unsettled conditions in the Bay of Biscay on Feb. 14. Winds at the time reached 60 knots and waves were more than 30 feet. According to Maersk, after the vessel put into the Spanish port of Malaga, cargo surveyors determined that 520 containers had been lost overboard from the storm. Approximately 85% of the lost containers (or about 440) were empty. Of the remaining 80 or so, Maersk said "none of the containers lost overboard contained dangerous goods."

That's comforting, but, of course, "dangerous goods" depends on who's defining the danger. A container packed with rubber ducks, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for example, might categorize as fairly innocuous, could be a very dangerous cargo to a voyaging boat if it caused the container to float. That wouldn't be something you'd want to run into while underway offshore. Let's hope all those 80 containers were packed with weight lifting gear or lead ingots! 

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