World Shipping Council Releases Containers Lost at Sea Report – 2024 Update World Shipping Council 2024-06-11 17:10

The World Shipping Council (WSC) today released its annual report on containers lost at sea, showing a significant decrease to 221 containers lost in 2023. While this is the lowest number recorded since the survey began in 2008, the WSC underscores the ongoing need for stringent safety measures and constant vigilance, as every container lost at sea is one too many.

Key Findings

  • Lower Losses: 221 containers were lost at sea in 2023 out of 250 million containers transported, a reduction from the previous lowest-ever loss of 661 containers in 2022.
  • Recovery Efforts: About 33% of the lost containers were recovered.

Despite these improvements, the WSC stresses that the industry cannot become complacent. The progress made in 2023 is encouraging, but it highlights the continuous need for dedication to safety protocols and preventive measures.

Ongoing and Upcoming Initiatives

  • The Marin TopTier Joint Industry Project: TopTier 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. Later this year, the final report will be published with conclusions and recommendations arising from extensive scientific research and analyses, providing industry best practices, updated safety, container and lashing standards, guidance and recommendations for regulatory updates.
  • Mandatory Reporting of containers lost at sea: New mandatory reporting requirements for containers lost at sea were recently adopted by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 108), and will take effect on January 1, 2026.  WSC has worked closely with member nations to develop these mandatory reporting requirements, being part of the initial submission by the European Union and taking an active part in the working group. By ensuring prompt and detailed reporting of lost and drifting containers, the amendments aim to enhance navigational safety, facilitate swift response actions, and mitigate potential environmental hazards.
  • Regulatory Enhancements: Continuous efforts to revise and enhance safety guidelines, including the SOLAS Convention and the CTU Code.

"The reduction in containers lost at sea in 2023 is a positive development, but it does not diminish the urgency of our work. Every container lost at sea represents a potential hazard, and our commitment to preventing these incidents must be unwavering," said John Butler, CEO of the World Shipping Council.

The liner shipping industry remains committed to working with governments and other stakeholders to implement effective safety measures and ensure the secure transport of containers. The progress achieved so far serves as a foundation for further action and continuous improvement.

Annual updates for improved data

Correct data plays an important part in the work to enhance container safety. As a part of our advocacy for mandatory international reporting of containers overboard, WSC has been reporting on the number of Containers Lost at Sea since 2011, with data starting 2008.  Originally the Report was updated every three years. To provide more timely updates, the Containers Lost at Sea Report is since 2023 carried out on an annual basis. 

Since its inception, WS has worked to increase safety in container handling and transport. A strong focus has been to reduce the number of incidents with containers lost at sea to limit related injuries and harm to seafarers, possible pollution and navigational safety issues. Many improvements have been achieved over the years including improvements to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention, creation and promotion of the Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code) and ISO standards for container lashing equipment and corner castings. This work continues.

Download the full report here Containers Lost at Sea — World Shipping Council 


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