Mystery of the Lost Shipping Containers at Sea
Thursday, 26th Mar, 2015
Container Shipping is a shipping method where inter-modal containers are transferred between various modes of transportation. Since container shipping by sea is a highly affordable and convenient mode of transportation, millions of containers are shipped each year. While care is taken when transferring these shipping containers across distances, many containers still end up getting lost at sea.
The reasons for this include improper stacking of containers or inadequate or faulty safety mechanisms. In other cases it just may be due to rough seas, or poor condition of the containers. Whatever the reason is, the loss is enormous. Although the actual number of lost containers is not confirmed, it is estimated that over 10,000 containers fall from ships each year and are lost along various international shipping routes.
It is believed that containers rarely sink immediately. Containers may float on the surface for several days or weeks prior to sinking, depending on whether they are full or empty. Some of these shipping containers will wash up on the shore. But, what about the containers that find their way to the ocean floor?
• The containers that lies below the surface can act like an iceberg, poising a serious threat for smaller vessels passing over it like fishing vessels and small crafts, as well as container ships and larger tankers.
• A container may remain undamaged or its contents may escape. The contents released may be toxic, hazardous or radioactive, harming sea life around it.
• Falling containers can also crush aquatic organisms.
• Scientific research reports that sunken containers serve as a source for marine remains. They have several impacts on marine life, such as introduction to foreign habitats, changes in the local ecology and artificial reefs for native species.
In conclusion, not only can sunk shipping containers be a great loss to proprietors, but also cause damage to marine ecology by falling off ships each year. Efforts should be taken to prevent further accumulation of containers on the sea floor and to prevent these accidents from occurring at sea.
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