THE WORLD Shipping Council has released its annual report on containers lost at sea, with a total of 221 containers lost out of 250 million transported.

This marks the lowest total annual figure of container loss at sea recorded since the survey began in 2008, significantly breaking the previous record-low of 661 set in 2022.

Of the containers lost last year, the WSC reports that about 33% were recovered.

WSC says these figures indicate a positive trend of increasing container safety, as well as improved navigational safety and vessel routing.

Companies that contribute to the survey account for more than 90% of the global containership capacity, providing a valid basis for an estimate on total containers lost at sea annually.

In the 2023 survey, most participating carriers saw either no or single digit container losses at sea, and the WSC says only one saw above 100-unit losses for that year.

World Shipping Council CEO John Butler said, “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.”

The WSC survey report made mention of a number of factors that may have contributed to a reduction in container losses for 2023. These include

  • revised International Maritime Organization guidelines for CTU inspections,
  • changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention to require verification of container weights prior to loading, and
  • revised standards for container lashing equipment and corner castings, implemented by the International Organization for Standardization.

Whilst the WSC admits the progress made in 2023 is encouraging, it says the results highlight a continuous need for dedication to safety protocols and preventive measures onboard and during transit, as “every container lost at sea is one too many”.