Containers piled up on giant ships, from car tires to smartphones, are falling at an alarming rate, sending millions of dollars worth of cargo to the ocean floor as pressure to speed up shipments increases the risk of safety mistakes.
The freight industry has lost shipments over the past seven years. More than 3,000 boxes fell into the sea last year, and so far more than 1,000 have fallen into the river in 2021. Accidents disrupt supply chains for hundreds of American retailers such as Amazon and Tesla.
There are a number of reasons for the sudden increase in accidents. The weather becomes more unpredictable as the ships get bigger, allowing the containers to be arranged higher than ever! But the escalation of the situation is a wave of e-commerce after consumer demand exploded during the epidemic, which increases the urgency of delivery lines to deliver products as quickly as possible.
“The large displacement of the containers means that these very large containers are much closer to full capacity than in the past,” said Clive Reed, founder of Reed Marine Maritime Casualty Management Consultancy. “There is a commercial pressure on ships to arrive on time, so they can travel more.”
In November, a 364-meter-high One Apus was swept away by strong winds and waves, causing the loss of more than 1,800 containers. It was the worst case since 2013, when the MOL Comfort split in two and sank in the Indian Ocean with all its 4,293 containers.
In January, Maersk Essen lost about 750 boxes while traveling from the Chinese city of Xiamen to Los Angeles. One month later, 260 containers fell from Maersk Eindhoven when it lost power in the heavy seas.
According to freight experts, the need for speed creates uncertain conditions that can lead to rapid disaster. The dangers range from stacking the boxes incorrectly to captains who do not deviate from the storm to save fuel and time as they are pressured by the oncoming collision. One wrong step can put your cargo and staff at risk.
The likelihood of disasters increases as exhausted seafarers experience worsening conditions during an epidemic. According to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, human error contributes to at least three-quarters of the shipping industry և victims:.
Almost all of the recent incidents took place in the Pacific Ocean, a region with the busiest traffic and the worst weather. The Asian-North Sea shipping link connecting Asian economies was the most lucrative for shipping companies last year. China’s exports have been tearful as epidemic fuels require all the things people need to work, learn and have fun at home.
The journey has always been rough, but it has become more dangerous due to changing weather conditions. The increase in traffic from China to the United States last winter coincided with the strongest winds in the North Pacific since 1948, increasing the likelihood of rough seas and larger waves.
With 226 million containers a year, a loss of more than և 1,000 may seem like a drop in the ocean. “This is a very small percentage lost,” Jacob Demgaard, Britannia P & I ‘s loss prevention assistant, told a conference in Singapore on April 23. “But that’s almost 60% of the monetary value of all container incidents.”
With an average of $ 50,000 per box, One Apus lost $ 90 million in shipments alone, the highest in recent history, according to Clyde & Co. of London. Partner of maritime law firm ai ay Sharma. According to Bloomberg, the losses so far this year amounted to 54.5 million dollars.
This issue also comes to the fore as the Ever Given 400-meter vessel landed in the Suez Canal last month, highlighting the vulnerability of the freight industry. The Mega Ship has been blocking the vital water pipeline for almost a week, and the impact on world trade is still being felt.
So far, none of the recent container crashes have been directly attributed to security breaches. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has said it is still awaiting the outcome of an investigation into the latest incidents, and has warned against any further action.
But many experts say the situation has become more dangerous since the epidemic due to pressure on supply chains. When ships are approaching severe weather, captains have the opportunity to stay out of danger. But the attitude is, “Do not go around the storm, go through,” said International Onatan Ranger, head of the American International Group’s Asia-Pacific Ocean.
“When you combine that with the potentially poor service of the windings and cables needed to secure those boxes, it ‘s a coincidence that awaits,” he said at an industry conference in Singapore.
When the boxes are arranged higher, the ship may become more unstable during the storm. The wave after the wave can cause the corner angles to roll, overloading the containers. The situation gets worse if the pyramid is overloaded. This can happen when there are incorrect weights on the cargo for containers, which many in the industry say happen very often.
“You can’t see inside the containers,” said Arnaldo Romero, a captain who sailed from Japan Aponia to South America late last year. “So when the cargo is heavy, the officer in charge of cargo planning lifts it. We may no longer have control over the carriage of the ship.”
Overworked staffs also increase the risks. The increased workload on the deck makes it more difficult for staff to effectively inspect and screw each bar, says Neil Wiggings, chief executive of Vessel Independent Operations Services.
There is also the health and safety of endangered marines. The multi-layered collapse of 40-foot containers during a raging storm is one of the most terrifying experiences for the captain: crew. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common among staff members, says Philip Istel, founder of Container Shipping Supporting Seafarers.
Concerns from industry are growing to address the situation.
“Tra’s voyage is different from what it was 10 years ago,” said Rajesh Uni, founder of Synergy Marine Group, which provides services to shipowners. “How do we adapt as an industry?” It is convenient to blame the captain, but we have to look at how to change the port infrastructure, how transits are being moved. ”
The IMO, the UN agency responsible for cargo regulations, says the countries under whose flag they sail are responsible for issuing ship safety certificates, and the ports through which they call ships are responsible. to comply with the rules for loading containers. ,
The agency said its subcommittee regularly examines container issues and has scheduled the next meeting for September.
AIG Ranger says companies need to be prepared to weather storms and properly service ships. “These ships are designed to carry boxes, and to have those losses, I dare say, is unacceptable.”