A major salvage operation could be required off Japan after another Maersk Line container ship lost cargo during a northern Pacific Ocean voyage
On 17 February, neo-Panamax container ship Maersk Eindhoven suffered an engine failure in harsh weather off Japan while en route from Xiamen, China, to Los Angeles, California. Maersk Line said this resulted in an unknown quantity of containers lost overboard and damage to others on deck.
Crew on the 2010-built, 13,100-TEU container ship were able to restore propulsion and turned the ship back towards Japan in search of a safe port to inspect the damage.
“Our preliminary reports indicate that a number of containers have been lost overboard,” said Maersk Line. “Unfortunately, we do not yet have the visibility into which of our customers’ containers have been lost or damaged. We are awaiting further updates from the vessel regarding potentially lost or damaged containers.”
Containers lost overboard will be hazardous to shipping in the area and are environmental pollution. They may drift on to nearby beaches and the coastline of Hokkaido and Kuril Islands, Japan in Pacific currents.
Maersk said it will “prioritise calling customers where containers may have been lost or sustained potential damage”. It confirmed Maersk Eindhoven was seeking a port of safety. “We are currently assessing the nearest suitable port options in Asia to berth the vessel,” Maersk Line said in a customer advisory.
This is the second time containers have been lost and damaged on Maersk Line ships this year, as Maersk Essen spilled up to 750 boxes into the Pacific Ocean in January, during its voyage from Xiamen to Los Angeles. Following that cargo loss in adverse weather, Maersk Essen continued its voyage across the Pacific to Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico for inspection, vessel repairs and cargo operations.
In Maersk Line’s latest advisory, it said Maersk Essen would depart Lazaro Cardenas on 20 February and is estimated to berth at APM Terminals Pier 400, Los Angeles on 4 March, subject to waiting time at anchorage in Los Angeles.
There is a worrying trend of maritime accidents and pollution involving lost containers from ships sailing through stormy weather and strong waves, with six reported incidences since November 2020.
Container ships ONE Apus and ONE Aquila lost or damaged hundreds of containers due to gale-force winds and large swells caused by heavy weather in the northern Pacific.
At the end of December, Evergreen Marine container ship Ever Liberal lost 36 containers in storm conditions, 20 nautical miles off Japan. Another 21 containers were damaged as the stack collapsed. In 2020, APL and MSC had similar container dropping accidents.
Container ships are also grounding and needing tug support during transits due to engine issues. The latest involved container ship CMA CGM Titus, which ran aground in the Suez Canal on 15 February. Tugs were mobilised to refloat the 2011-built ship and enable it to resume its northern transit to Lebanon and then to Piraeus, Greece.
In another recent example, an escort tug prevented two container ships from colliding in the Elbe River as one box ship came to a sudden halt in the fairway after it suffered a power failure.
K Line and ONE recently completed a crisis management drill as part of their training on emergency response.
Their emergency drill came as the industry discussed key safety issues causing container ship fires and lost cargo during Riviera’s Container ship safety by design, not by accident webinar. During this webinar, held on 10 February as part of Riviera’s Container Ship Webinar Week, panellists discussed these accidents and other issues, relating them to container ship design, build, operation and security of cargo.
Riviera will provide free technical and operational webinars in 2021. Sign up to attend on our events page