09 DEC 2020

Friday (04 DEC): ONE Apus Returning to Japan after Record Containers Loss

Update: MV ONE Apus is now proceeding to the port of Kobe, Japan with an estimated arrival of December 8th.

According to an update this morning, it is now estimated that number of lost or damaged containers could be more than 1,900, including 40 that are believed to be dangerous goods. The exact number won’t be known for some time.

Today’s update comes from Chidori Ship Holding LLC and NYK Ship management Pte Ltd as owners and managers of the 14,000 TEU vessel, respectively.

“Early investigations onboard the ONE Apus have determined that the impacted container bays remain unsafe for close-quarter inspections; however, it is estimated that the number of lost or damaged units could exceed 1,900, of which some 40 are believed to be DG containers,” the update said.

The ONE Apus was sailing from Yantian, China to Long Beach, California when, on Monday night (November 30), it encountered heavy weather with gale-force winds and large swells which caused the ship to roll heavily. This ship was located approximately 1,600 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii at the time.

A notification was sent to the JRCC in Honolulu and Guam with maritime navigational warnings subsequently broadcast.

The owners and managers are now reporting that the ship will sail towards Japan with plans to seek a port of refuge to right unstable containers, assess any damages, and determine the exact number of containers impacted.

“Our focus remains on getting the ship to a safe port to ensure the ongoing safety of the crew, the vessel and the cargo on board,” today’s update said.

The ONE Apus is a 14,000 TEU containership built in 2019 measuring 364-meters in length and sailing under the Japanese flag. The vessel operates on Ocean Network Express’s Far East Pacific 2 (FP2) Service.

An update from the owners said weather at the time was report as wind force BF 4 with north-westerly seas of 5 to 6 meters, “long high swell”. Weather maps show significant wave heights of up to 16 meters associated with the weather system around the time of the incident.

A full investigation is expected in conjunction with the Flag State and the relevant maritime authorities.

History of Cargo Loss

To give you an idea of the scope of this incident, the World Shipping Council tallies the number of containers reported lost at sea each year and calculates that, on average, approximately 1,382 containers are lost overboard from ships per year (over the last 12 years), not counting catastrophic incidents (like this one seems almost certain to turn into).

The worst cargo loss I can recall (from weather, not including shipwrecks or fires) was in 2014 when the Svendborg Maersk lost 517 containers overboard and another 250 damaged during adverse weather in the Bay of Biscay, according to a Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board report on the incident (report here).

In 2018 when the Maersk Honam caught fire in Indian Ocean, it was carrying 7,860 containers, corresponding to about 12,416 TEU, and the fire burned through approximately a third of the ship.

However, no cargo loss was worse than the MOL Comfort, which ranks as the single worst container shipping disaster in modern history. It sank in 2013 in the Indian Ocean with the loss of all 4,293 containers (estimated), equivalent to 7,041 TEUs.


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