In the first three months of 2021, 1,127 shipping containers have been lost. The lost goods are estimated to be equivalent to about $54 million.

This figure is surprising, especially considering that in the whole of 2020, 3,112 containers were lost. The reasons: haste and unpredictable weather that has affected cargo ships. This disaster has also aggravated the already worrying shortage of chips.

The record number of lost containers occurred in 2013, when the ship MOL Comfort literally broke in two and ended up with its 4,293 containers at the bottom of the sea.

MOL container ship

These lost containers end up causing serious collateral damage to all kinds of companies, including large retail chains or manufacturers such as Amazon or Tesla, who are left without products in their warehouses or components for their vehicles.

The International Maritime Organization – which is part of the UN and regulates shipping – does not point out too concrete causes. However, experts in this field indicate that most of the recently lost containers ended up in the Pacific Ocean last winter.

Among the causes are the very strong winds that these vessels faced – the strongest since 1948 – but also the pressure to resume the supply of all kinds of goods during the Christmas season to make up for the time lost during the pandemic and the confinement.

The rush causes, for example, that containers are not well secured during loading maneuvers -there are strict rules in this regard- or that captains do not deviate from their course in the face of storms because that would cause them to lose time.

It is true that the percentage of containers lost is very low: 226 million of these containers are transported every year, so losing just over 1,000 does not seem so much, but the losses are significant.
This whole sector continues to provoke debate also in the wake of the incident with the giant cargo ship Ever Given, which got stuck in the Suez Canal a few weeks ago.


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