Skip to main content
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary National Marine Sanctuaries Home Page National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Home Page

Research Technical Report

A PDF version of this report is available at:

http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/conservation/lostcontainers.html

The Containerized Shipping Industry and the Phenomenon of Containers Lost at Sea


Frey, O.T., and A.P. DeVogelaere (March 2014)

Marine Sanctuaries Conservation Series ONMS-14-07

ABSTRACT


During a transit from San Francisco Bay to the Port of Los Angeles on February 26, 2004, the M/V Med Taipei encountered a storm and lost 15 forty-foot shipping containers in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), and another nine south of the Sanctuary. One of these containers was discovered by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) on June 9, 2004 on Smooth Ridge at a depth of 1,281 meters, 17.5 nm NW of Point Pinos. This was not an isolated incident. Containerized maritime trade grew eight-fold from 1985 to 2007, and worldwide there are now approximately 5 to 6 million containers in transit at any given moment. Thousands of shipping containers are lost at sea every year, often due to the nexus of rough seas, inadequate or faulty securing mechanisms, and failure to weigh all containers at the time of loading. On March 8-10, 2011, we conducted a research expedition to the container on Smooth Ridge using MBARI's R/V Western Flyer. The cruise aimed to assess the container's current condition, describe habitat and ecosystem impacts, and to bring public attention to this deep-sea phenomenon that has been increasing with economic globalization. Given the potentially severe ecological, economic, and navigational safety consequences associated with container loss, the issue has led to a range of responses from industry and the consideration of additional preventative measures at the international level.

Suggested Citation:

Frey, O., and A.P. DeVogelaere. 2014. The Containerized Shipping Industry and the Phenomenon of Containers Lost at Sea. Marine Sanctuaries Conservation Series ONMS-14-07. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Silver Spring, MD. 51pp.

URL: http://montereybay.noaa.gov/research/techreports/trfrey2014b.html    Reviewed: April 10, 2014
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

Privacy Statement | Site Disclaimer | User Survey
National Marine Sanctuaries | National Ocean Service | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | USA.gov