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Friday, January 1, 2021

1816 containers lost over board in rough weather - ONE Apus arrived at Port of Kobe

Multimodal Containers changed the way goods had been transported all along – the standardization of strong containers ensured easy stacking,  one on top of the other –fitting more inside the ship and the sturdy packing prevented damage and pilferage too.  In general, this is considered  a good risk for Marine Insurers.  There are specialized carriers – Container ships too.  Originally developed for the U.S. for Puerto Rico trade, the container vessel was slowly emerging in the maritime area in the 1950s. Conversions of existing tonnage preceded the first purpose-built containership the Gateway City designed in 1956/7. The development in the container market was slow until 1968, when deliveries reached 18 vessels. Ten of them had a capacity of 1000-1500TEU.  Now they have revolutionized the way goods are carried from place to place.

Container ship capacity is measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). Typical loads are a mix of 20-foot and 40-foot (2-TEU) ISO-standard containers, with the latter predominant. Today, about 90% of non-bulk cargo worldwide is transported by container ships, and the largest modern container ships can carry over 23,000 TEU (e.g., MSC Gülsün). Container ships now rival crude oil tankers and bulk carriers as the largest commercial seaborne vessels.  Container ships have been getting bigger since they began operating in liner services over 50 years ago because the increased size produces increased operating efficiency and improved environmental performance. Some of the world's biggest container ships are about 1,300 feet long - that's nearly 400 meters or the distance around an Olympic running track - with a maximum width of 180 feet (55 meters). Their engines weigh 2,300 tons, their propellers 130 tons, and there are twenty-one storeys between their bridge and their engine room. They can be operated by teams of just thirteen people and a sophisticated computer system and carry an astonishing 11,000 20-foot containers. If that number of containers were loaded onto a train it would need to be 44 miles or 71 kilometers long!

There have been some devastating losses too !  .. ..  MOL Comfort was a 2008-built Bahamian-flagged post-Panamax container ship chartered by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines. The vessel was launched in 2008 as APL Russia and sailed under that name until 2012, when the ship was renamed to MOL Comfort. On 17 June 2013, she broke in two about 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) off the coast of Yemen. That caused considerable loss for all Marine Insurers and for trade.

Now the industry is talking about ‘One Apus’ -    a 14,000 TEU containership built in 2019 measuring 364-meters in length and sailing under the Japanese flag. The vessel is operated by Ocean Network Express on the Far East Pacific 2 (FP2) Service.  The vessel is one of seven 14,000 built for ONE Line, established in 2017 through the merger of the container businesses of major Japanese shipping companies Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd (“K” Line), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK).   It's gross tonnage is 146694 tons.

The 14,000 teu vessel suffered a massive container stack collapse en route to Long Beach after encountering heavy weather near Hawaii on 30 November 2020. The carrier confirmed that 1,816 boxes in total had been  lost overboard, including 64 dangerous goods (DG) boxes, abandoned its original route and returned to Japan, berthing at Kobe this week.  There are indications in the market that apart from those containers lost overboard, thousands more had been damaged -   with total losses expected to amount to millions of dollars.

The industry is otherwise affected already by Covid 19 and port chaos.  In UK and in many other countries, a range of companies are now struggling to import goods due to the chaos at British ports.  Brompton Bikes is struggling to keep up with huge demand for its bikes because of delays to imported components caused by a port being 'clogged up'. The company said 1.5 million components from Asia are 'stuck on the water', waiting to be offloaded at Felixstowe in Suffolk.   Another company complained of delays  importing LED lights from China.  They claimed it to be an  absolute nightmare and very frustrating- resulting in huge overlays and increase in transportation costs.  It is apprehended that Christmas presents may go undelivered and food go off at the dockside due to chaos at British ports caused by a perfect storm of Covid, the festive rush and Brexit stockpiling.  Containers are piling up at Southampton, Felixstowe and London Gateway amid a global shipping crisis that has led to the cost of transporting goods from Asia soaring by as much as five times.

Away from the melee, the  containership ONE Apus arrived at the Port of Kobe, Japan on Tuesday after its eight-day trek from the middle of Pacific Ocean where it lost nearly 2,000 containers during a storm. The vessel reportedly lost 1,816 containers overboard when it encountered severe weather on Monday, November 30, 2020.”  Reports suggest that a  full safety inspection of the vessel and its remaining cargo will take place to reveal the full extent of the damage.  Once the vessel and cargo are declared safe, surveyors from the various stakeholders will make their initial assessments whilst stowage planners and stevedores formulate and implement a plan to ensure the safe removal of the remaining units,” the update said.   The  containers were lost overboard as a result of severe weather conditions when the ship was approximately 1,600 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii. Among those lost were 64 Dangerous Goods containers, including 54 with fireworks, eight containing batteries and two with liquid ethanol. This could wel be the biggest weather-related cargo loss in marine cargo history.  According to its managers, the root cause analysis and full investigation will look at all aspects of the situation, including the vessel’s routing, loading, equipment and fitness for purpose in very extreme weather. We must ensure no such loss occurs again.'

The industry is licking its wounds !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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