The year 2020 has been disastrous to many in so many many ways with the whole world in a crazy tizz due various reasons – COVID-19, maritime disasters, space and equipment crunch, extraordinary freight rates, and stranded seafarers..
But 2020 looks like it is still not done with maritime disasters even as we hit the last month of the year..
In the latest maritime disaster, the ONE APUS a 14,052 TEU containership built in 2019 and operating on Ocean Network Express’s (ONE) Far East Pacific 2 (FP2) Service suffered multiple stack collapse on board due to severe weather conditions while the vessel was enroute from Yantian in China to Long Beach in USA..
It has been reported that the vessel encountered gale-force winds and large swells around 1,600 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii, USA and these severe weather conditions caused the vessel to roll heavily resulting in an estimated 1,816+ containers to be lost or dislodged from its lashings..
Off these 1,816 containers, 40 are believed to be carrying hazardous goods..
The ship is currently on its way to Kobe, Japan to seek to set right the dislodged and unstable containers and to assess damages to the ship if any and also to determine the exact numbers of containers lost overboard.. The ship is expected to reach Kobe on the 8th of December..
A press release from ONE said “The priority remains on getting the vessel and crew safely to port. Once berthed, it’s expected to take some time to offload the dislodged containers that remain on board. Then a thorough assessment will be made on the exact number and type of containers that have been lost or damaged.“
“Once the ONE Apus is in port and deemed safe, a full investigation will be conducted into this incident in conjunction with the Flag State and the relevant maritime authorities“, added the notification..
ONE has set up a ONE APUS Information Centre for the benefit of the customers..
Obviously this is only interim information and nothing can be confirmed till the vessel is berthed in Kobe and a thorough assessment done on the exact number and type of containers that have been lost or damaged and also the reasons for the incident..
A notification has been sent to the JRCC in Honolulu and Guam with maritime navigational warnings who have advised there have not been sightings of any containers as yet..
This incident once again highlights the disasters that container ships, cargo and crew could encounter due to various reasons ranging from improper lashing of containers, improper ship design, incorrect stowage planning etc..
Remember that accelerations acting on a ship during sea voyage creates a combination of longitudinal, vertical and predominantly transverse motions and the lashing and securing of the containers on board must be such that it is able to withstand these motions..
Linked to incidents such as this would be insurance claims including possible General Average and maybe even punitive action against ship captains like seen recently in the case of the APL England where the Captain was held responsible and charged for offences relating to pollution and/or damage of the marine environment as a result of poor cargo loading, or the Wakashio which sank off Mauritius..
As per a World Shipping Council 2020 update, it is estimated that on average 1,382 containers are lost at sea each year based on a 12 year survey done between 2008-2019..
Considering the number of containers displaced/lost, experts are of the view that this incident on the ONE Apus could be the worst ever containership disaster with potential loss and costs running into hundreds of millions.. Once the investigations are done on the ship, there will be more clarity on the reasons for this massive collapse/loss..