Do you remember back in February the massive loss of containers from the container ship Svendborg Maersk? Whilst sailing thru the Bay of Biscay the 347m long vessel hit unexpected bad weather. Subsequently 517 containers were lost overboard, with damage to another 250 units. We reported on this once in a blue moon incident back when the story broke, we then followed up with the details on the floating container warnings a few days later.
Then, at the beginning of June, Maersk was ordered to locate the missing containers by the French Maritime Authority. Losing this many containers overboard is an rare and unusual event – with the loss possibly be entered into the Guinness Book of Records for the most containers lost overboard without the actual vessel itself sinking.
The Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board has now released the report on this event.
The full report is here and is a long read at 28 pages. However, it is extensive and interesting and goes through step by step the events leading up to this loss of containers.
In summary, whilst the Master of the vessel expected to encounter unfavourable weather conditions through the Bay of Biscay, the circumstances that the vessel came across were indeed much worse. Without warning the vessel rolled, with some containers falling overboard. The violent rolling continued later that night, with the vessel rolling to an extreme angle of 41 degrees. Again, more containers were lost. (want to see vision of a container ship rolling at 40 degrees?)
Containers fell from the vessel at two separate points in the Bay of Biscay
Maersk has shown the bays in which the lost containers were located.
The report advises that the lashing gear for 600-700 containers was found to be damaged during the event. Out of the 517 containers that were lost overboard, 75 of them contained cargo, with the remaining 442 boxes being empty. Another 250 units were also damaged during this incident.
It is also interesting to note that the Svendborg Maersk was not the only vessel that encountered trouble during these particular unforeseen weather conditions. A 85 year old man that was on board the cruise ship, Marco Polo, was injured when a freak wave crashed through the window of an on board restaurant. The man later died in hospital.
Containers being lost overboard vessels is not generally a common occurrence. Maybe that’s what makes this incident so fascinating.