Why are containers lost at sea?

The loss of shipping containers at sea is a significant problem for the industry – an average of 1,382 shipping containers are lost at sea each year, according to the latest figures from the World Shipping Council. However, more than 3,000 containers were lost in 2020 alone, including a ship that lost 1,900 containers en route to Kobe, Japan.

The consequences for shipping companies go beyond the goods being overboard. Losing containers can incur charges and damage relationships with their customers. It endangers the safety of the ship’s crew and creates a hazard to the environment. DTN SPOS Seakeeping combines accurate weather forecast data and tailored ship performance to help captains avoid getting into situations where they could suffer a container loss. In this article we will tell you more about it.

How containers get lost at sea

The main cause of container loss at sea is adverse weather – and the waves from rough weather. The lashing determines whether the containers are held in place. It has to be strong and tested to withstand certain pressures, but harsh weather can exceed those limits.

The effect of waves on the cargo varies depending on the type of ship:

Container ships: Rolling motion causes containers to lose their lashing and either fall into the sea or move so far that the cargo inside is damaged

Car transporter: Move cargo

Bulk carrier: Liquefaction of cargo, which can be dangerous for the ship

Currently, many shipping companies rely on their captains to interpret weather forecasts and plan routes that minimize the effects of adverse weather conditions and reduce their speed accordingly. Often this is done purely out of gut instinct.

How SPOS Seakeeping prevents containers from being lost at sea

Introduction to seakeeping

Seakeeping is an add-on to DTN SPOS. It is the only automated maritime solution that includes weather forecasts and ship movement forecasts in one user interface.

It combines accurate and detailed weather forecasts with hydrodynamic models and operational data from each ship to advise captains on the best route. Traditionally, waves and weather conditions determine optimized ship routes, but SPOS Seakeeping takes into account the design and response of the ship to meet ocean conditions in determining the best route. This provides a far more accurate and safer route recommendation tailored specifically to the ship’s operational constraints and avoids weather conditions that can cause a particular ship to lose cargo. It makes this information available to captains as early as possible to enable safe decision-making.

How it works

When a customer installs DTN SPOS Seakeeping on a ship, hydrodynamic details of the ship’s hull design are provided by the customer. DTN and ABB then create a suitable model to evaluate how the ship handles the force of the waves on impact. These results are entered into a database installed on board the ship. With this accurate, personalized information, you can be sure that you are doing everything possible to protect your cargo.

Three of the five largest container companies use SPOS Seakeeping to minimize container losses. Larger companies with similar ships can take advantage of the 3D version, while new users can get started with the 2D version.

SPOS Seakeeping doesn’t just help shipping companies lose containers at sea. This product has several advantages:

Economic Benefits – Planning the most efficient route and maintaining a constant speed will help save fuel, which is the main cost of any shipping company.

Time Saving – Avoiding inclement weather also helps save time and avoid delays in reaching the destination port. Easy setup – Seakeeping is easy to add to your existing SPOS product. We estimate that it takes about two weeks to create a hydrodynamic simulation.

Take the pressure off captains – Access to accurate, detailed operational information enables captains to use gut instinct when planning a route.

Safety – Planning a route around areas of inclement weather minimizes accidents that could be dangerous to your crew.

Find out more

DTN SPOS Seakeeping is the only solution of its kind on the market that combines weather data with the unique characteristics of each ship to enable companies to optimize their routes.

Don’t leave the health of your cargo to chance or gut feeling. Let the data point you in the right direction.

Register for the DTN ABB webinar to learn “Why are containers lost at sea? And how can you avoid that?

Would you like to try SPOS Seakeeping? Request an SPOS demo.

About Christine Geisler

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