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Loss of Containers at Sea
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14 January 2013

Chapter V, SOLAS, deals with Safety to Navigation. Vessels are required to report any dangers to navigation to the Maritime Authority and are also required to keep a record of incidents occurring on board that may lead to such dangers. Containers clearly come under this heading. SOLAS and MARPOL specifically include the necessity to report the loss of containers containing hazardous materials.

IMO Resolution A.851 (20) includes guidelines for ship reporting requirements, for example, in the case of hazardous cargo incidents. EU Directive 2002/59/EC as amended by Directive 2009/17/EC, was implemented into Irish law by the European Communities (Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information System) Regulations 2010- S.I. 573/2010. Under the heading Reporting of incidents and accidents at sea the Coast Guard are obliged to be notified of any incident affecting the safety of the ship including shifting of cargo, and there is also a   requirement to report any container seen drifting at sea.

The Coast Guard has not had many reports of vessels losing containers; see the details below from database held by Pollution and Salvage Branch.

 Date  Incident Contents  Result 


MV Horncliff 59 containers lost overboard c.200nm SW Fastnet Fruit Naval Service located one container. One container 'discovered' near Derrynane, others unknown

MV BG Dublin 7 containers lost overboard 15nm SE Mine Head

6 containing bird food, plastic packaging, medical equipment, firelogs and one with Sodium Bromate HNS 3 containers located sinking none of which was the HNS. Reports of plastic packaging washing up along the South coast, local authorities dealing with issue
31/08/2013 MSC Flaminia containers lost overboard mid-Atlantic Various A number of containers were located and recovered