Harrowing CCTV footage released by Kiwirail shows Kiwis’ near misses with trains as the organisation begins its campaign for Rail Safety Week. Photo: KiwirailHarrowing CCTV footage released by Kiwirail shows Kiwis’ near misses with trains as the organisation campaigns for Rail Safety Week.
On average, a New Zealand train driver will experience a near miss every day, according to KiwiRail.
In total, there have been 323 near misses with trains at railway crossings involving cars and pedestrians, according to Rail Safety Week campaign website nearmisses.co.nz.
At public level crossings, there have been 12 collisions and 191 near misses in the past 12 months to June 30 – with the majority involving light vehicles.
To reflect on theses statistics, Kiwirail has shared a video which features a variety of near misses caught on CCTV.
Each incident has been turned into a near-miss memorial at the corresponding train station.
The memorials feature half crosses with barcodes on them, which allow people to scan and watch the harrowing footage.Each incident has been turned into a near-miss memorial at the corresponding train stations. Photo: KiwirailOne includes the “woman in hoodie”, where a woman can be seen looking the other way before seeing the train in the corner of her eye and barely making it across.
The other videos continue to follow a similar pattern, with adults, kids, cyclists and drivers crossing the tracks with a moment to spare.
Locomotive engineer Jeremy also speaks about his experience with near misses in the campaign video.
“Just think when you run in front of a train, there’s someone in there who has to deal with that and try deal with the effects of it,” Jeremy said.
“It’s a real sort of heart-in-your-mouth scenario. It’s someone making a split-second decision and not really thinking about the effect it’s going to have on others.”
KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller said while people might walk or drive away after a near miss, these split-second decisions can cause long-term effects for everyone.
“People are risking their lives and just one second of inattention at a railway crossing can create a circle of trauma rippling outwards – impacting friends and families, our drivers and the community.
“A freight train weighing 1000 tonnes across 30 wagons can take a kilometre to come to a stop once the brakes are applied. It also takes time for the commuter trains in Auckland and Wellington to stop.
“Quite often our locomotive engineers know how it’s going to turn out. They sound the horn, hit the emergency brakes and, often, hit the floor and get behind a safety block.
“They are hoping that against all the odds the person or vehicle will get out of the way in time, and that this won’t become one of the worst days of their lives.”This woman just made it. Photo: KiwirailThere has been a drop in recorded near-misses compared to last year, but Miller said that was no reason to relax.
“It’s likely the Covid-19 lockdown has played a part in the drop, as between late March and June near misses halved at level crossings compared with the same time last year.
“However, it’s not just people and vehicles involved in near misses. Last year there were more than 200 near misses involving livestock in the rail corridor. This is highly distressing for the animals and can be too for the farmers who take care of them.”
TrackSAFE NZ Foundation Manager Megan Drayton has also called on people to take greater care when crossing the railway line.
“In the last 12 months, KiwiRail recorded more than 300 near misses across the rail network. Of these, 191 near misses occurred at public level crossings and the majority of those crossings had flashing lights and bells or barrier arms.
“This shows us that even with warning signs and protections in place, some motorists and pedestrians are still either being complacent, or taking unnecessary risks.
“For this year’s campaign, we’re sharing stories of locomotive engineers who have experienced a near miss that’s been caught on camera. It’s a chance for people to hear the drivers’ stories and to put themselves in their position.
“We’ve set up a campaign website where people can explore near-miss memorials, which are locations where there’s be a recorded near miss, mostly at level crossings.
“These near misses are represented by a thought-provoking half cross ‘memorial’ to show the severity of what could have happened and that these people narrowly avoided a serious or fatal collision.”
The week-long campaign is coordinated by KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ in close partnership with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, NZ Police, Auckland Transport, Transdev Auckland, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Transdev Wellington and many other councils throughout New Zealand.
Rail safety advice • Cross with care – trains can arrive at any time from either direction. • If you’re driving, obey the warning signs and look carefully in both directions for trains. • Listen, be aware and pay careful attention to your surroundings. • Trains can approach faster than you think, and can be quiet. They are heavy and cannot stop quickly. • Always ensure there is space on the other side of the crossing for your vehicle before crossing the tracks. • If you’re on foot, only cross at a formed level crossing or an overpass or underpass. • Remove your headphones, stop and always look both ways for trains before crossing the tracks. • Only cross if you are sure there are no trains in sight. • Obey the warning signs at the crossing – if lights are flashing or bells are ringing this means a train is approaching. • If a train has passed or is stopped at the station, always check both ways again to make sure another train is not coming. Two tracks may mean there is a second train.
Just when you thought not another report could be wrung out of Auckland’s port future debate, the Auckland Business Chamber is urging all Kiwis to completely “re-imagine” a port for 100-150 years – and it’s pick is in the Firth of Thames.
After staying pretty quiet during a flurry of reports over shifting the Auckland port, the chamber is launching its own take, “A Port for the Future”, which invites the community to use an accepted timeline that the existing port will do for another 25 or so years, to carefully plan another to last more than another century.
And for port observers feeling reported-out, Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett assures “this is not another report”.
“It is an effort by the chamber to get people to re-imagine where a port might be and what would be the best for New Zealand and New Zealand business – not a competition between Auckland and North or Tauranga but an informed discussion of what could be.”
Barnett said the chamber represents the voice of Auckland business without bias, and in this neutral position has stepped back to analyse all the discussion around the relocation of the port from Waitemata Harbour.
“The chamber … now realises that the issue is not just an Auckland problem, but is one that, if done correctly, will bring benefits right across New Zealand.”
The chamber had concluded the existing port was fully sustainable for another 25 to 30 years and that a solution is required beyond that. To provide a port solution beyond the generation after next required vision and a willingness to go beyond the familiar.
The chamber’s offering makes a case for a man-made island ship exchange terminal in the Firth of Thames, connected by broad gauge rail to a container terminal facility in the vicinity of Pokeno/Meremere.
The island terminal would be “a whole-of-New Zealand” terminal servicing large foreign trade ships handling all import and export containers. The report does not discuss costs but points to several overseas examples to underline there is nothing in the paper that is not tried and proven elsewhere in the world.
“What is running out (for the existing port) is social licence and that’s what’s motivating us to try to accelerate the debate and re-imagine what a port could look like”, Barnett told the Herald.
“What’s been uncomfortable has been the apparent political nature of the discussion so far, it tends to have been personality-driven from the north – almost an anti-Auckland thing. Yet this isn’t about either of those things, it’s about a nation down in the South Pacific dependent on its ability to import and export.
“We need something for the next 100 years and the people of New Zealand should make that choice. It’s not up to a politician or a government.
“(So far) we have re-imagined the port simply by saying ‘let’s pick up Auckland port and take it north (to Northport)’. I’m saying we can do it another way.”
The chamber will widely distribute its paper within the freight, transport and shipping sector and invite comment and discussion directly to the chamber.
The chamber’s analysis concluded there would always be a need for a port in Auckland – “just not as we know it”.
Social licence issues arising at New Zealand ports were “but the tip of the iceberg and demonstrate that the focus being purely on relocation of the Port of Auckland is extremely narrow and has the potential to lead to a flawed conclusion”, said the paper.
“Ports of Auckland is clearly approaching a sunset phase, however, it is the chamber’s view that the present facility will be capable of handling existing throughput plus growth for several years to come … (but) it is inevitable and acknowledged by the chamber, that the port’s container facilities will be shifted from the present location to another site.”
The paper said volume growth and investment required at the Port of Tauranga, along with “other issues starting to emerge” made it “pretty safe to assume that the Tauranga terminal will also be looking for a new location in future”. In four weeks the Tauranga port handled as many containers as Wellington’s port in a year.
Current modelling showed that with the construction of the future city of Drury South, the Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga triangle would encompass four of New Zealand’s six largest cities.
Over the next 30 years the population in the area between greater Auckland and Taupo was forecast to grow by 7.8 per cent a year. During this time the rest of New Zealand’s population was predicted to grow by 2 per cent a year and by 3.6 per cent north of Auckland.
The option of developing a new port at Manukau Harbour raised in earlier reports was indeed an option when considered just in the context of Auckland, the paper said.
“However it is not compatible with the chamber’s objective of providing a future solution that will benefit NZ Inc. Throughout … the chamber has avoided introducing untested or yet to be implemented technology as will be required to overcome the hazardous conditions presented by the Manukau Harbour entrance.”
The Firth of Thames had been looked at in studies over the past 25 years.
“Unfortunately the concept appears to be too far out of the mainstream for people to understand, especially as it has only been viewed as a solution solely for Auckland and suggest constructions methods based on the traditional.”
The paper details modern construction methods used overseas.
Barnett concedes the chamber’s suggestion of the Firth of Thames is a “brave, big call” given the environmental, wildlife and iwi concerns that are likely to be raised against it.
But with time on New Zealand’s side for consultation, research, innovation and planning, problems could be properly addressed and hopefully overcome.
Barnett, a veteran of port group discussions over the years, worked with ports consultant Tony Boyle to produce the paper. The project cost did not exceed $10,000, he said.
More Aucklanders are believed to be working from home after the Covid-19 lockdown, leaving the city’s notoriously packed motorways to flow a little freer.
Traffic at key sites at most of the country’s major cities has returned to pre-lockdown levels, but Auckland is the exception.
Data collected from traffic counters between the Queenstown Rd and Hillsborough Rd on and off ramps showed there were about 112,700 vehicles passing through each week, excluding weekend days.
This was 89.7 percent of the previous year’s 125,569 vehicles, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency’s latest statistics from the end of June.
Meanwhile, traffic counters at specific sites in Wellington showed traffic was about 95.9 percent of the previous year, Christchurch at 104.6 percent, Hamilton at 100.2 percent, and Dunedin at 99.7 percent.
This drop was also mirrored in public transport use.
Patronage was 67.5 percent of last year in Auckland, which meant about 45,000 fewer people taking return trips.
This compares to Wellington’s 89.4 percent and Christchurch’s 74.6 percent.
Auckland-based Frog Recruitment founder Jane Kennelly said there was no doubt more people were working from home.
For example, she knew of a large corporate company with only 10 percent of their staff coming into the office every day.
Kennelly said working from home options were highly desired by Auckland job-hunters.
“Particularly for Auckland, one of the things that we’ve talked about for the last number of years with candidates is their dislike of sitting in traffic,” she said.
“That dead time when you’re in peak hour traffic and it takes so long to get to work.”
There was a strong trend of people opting to work closer to home as well – even if their salary dropped.
In her opinion, the Covid-19 lockdown had opened up a “world of opportunity” in working arrangements for both employers and employees.
“[It has shown] that working from home is a very viable option – that money can be saved, time can be saved, family time can be gained and it’s a significant key attribute in their minds when it comes to their work.”
NZTA’s Auckland system manager Andrea Williamson said fewer people heading to the airport was also contributing to the decline.
She was not certain why Auckland traffic did not bounce back like the other main centres, but she hoped traffic volumes stayed down.
“If there’s less cars on the motorway, then there’s a smaller queue which means that everyone is a little bit happier when they get on the motorway.”
The environment also benefited with fewer cars on the road, she said.
Auckland Transport’s metro services manager Stacey van der Putten said university students – who were not currently on campus – usually made up about 14 percent of public transport users.
This had put a dent in the number of people taking public transport, she said.
Greater Auckland director Matt Lowrie said cycleway data showed more people were jumping on their bike, but they weren’t necessarily heading to work.
“In many of the cycleways there is an increase in usage, particularly some of the recreational ones,” he said.
“But the big commuting cycleways, particularly things like the Northwestern, remain down on what they were last year.”
The smaller rumbling of cars on the road could also be detected underground.
GNS science operation specialist Sam Taylor-Offord said data pulled from a seismic sensor about 40 metres underground at Eden Park illustrated the traffic activity.
Noise levels traditionally peaked during the middle of the week and were quieter during the weekend.
This was stable until Covid revved up in March.
“You can see actually the day that we go into level 4 it hits the floor. It stays there until we hit level 3, then it steps back up. When it gets to about level 1, it actually flattens out.”
He said the data showed the sound levels during the week at level 1 were comparable to weekends in February, before alert levels were introduced.
The Singapore-flagged bulker Funing has been brought safely alongside at the Port of Tauranga on the north island of New Zealand. The vessel experienced a power failure while in the main shipping channel and for a time threatened navigation to New Zealand’s largest port.
The 40,000 DWT bulk carrier was departing New Zealand bound for China with a load of timber on July 6 when it lost engine power at approximately 12:30 am local time while in the main shipping channel. There was a pilot aboard at the time but Maritime New Zealand reported that the weather conditions were considered poor with a 30 knot wind and significant swell.
After losing power the Funing was unable to steer and began drifting due to the high winds and tides in the area. The vessel snagged the chains holding one of the buoys marking the shipping channel. The tides and currents then pushed the Funing across the channel before the ship was able to anchor and hold position.
At the time of the incident, there were 20 crew members aboard. None of the crew was injured and Maritime New Zealand said that there were no reports of oil or other pollution from the vessel.
Funing disabled at anchorage – courtesy Maritime New Zealand
New Zealand dispatched two tugs to the vessel’s assistance and they were later able to tow the Funing to deeper water and a safe anchorage. An inspection of the propeller and rudder was conducted by divers because it was believed that the vessel had made contact with a marker buoy at the harbor entrance.
After having remained at anchorage for the past week, the offshore tug Pacific Runner arrived in Tauranga to assist the Funing. They completed a towage trial this morning and later in the day towed the vessel to the dock in Tauranga
A further investigation of the incident will be conducted. Repairs are also commencing and expected to last up to 14 days before the Funing can resume its voyage to China.
The international shipping community is facing a major labour crisis, with sailors stranded on ships or at home because of visa and flight restrictions, maritime groups said.
With crew changes down by 75 per cent, a humanitarian crisis is also developing, with sailors suffering mental health problems, fatigue and accidents from being trapped for months at a time on ships.
With more than 200,000 sailors unable to leave their vessels and a similar number trying to get out to them, international shipping bodies believe the world economy is weeks from another disaster.
Last week, only 13 countries including the UAE, Britain and the United States, signed up to an agreement to designate sailors as key workers, allowing them to fly home without quarantine or visa issues.
But other major seafaring nations such as China and India refused to sign up, adding to the dangerous logjam that could affect the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
With ships transporting 80 per cent of global trade, the urgency to resolve the problem has been highlighted by the International Maritime Organisation, a UN body.
In a statement it said: “Three key requirements are needed to stop the crisis spiralling. Seafarers need to be designated as key workers globally, visa requirements need to be dropped, and governments need to get commercial airlines running to transport them.”
Some ship owners have resorted to chartering aircraft to turn around crews, at an estimated $800,000 (Dh2.9m) cost per change.
Another owner sailed his empty tanker from Africa to Britain to facilitate a crew change before taking the ship back to Africa.
Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, said the global economy was in danger if no action was taken.
“We are weeks away from this becoming a very serious situation. We cannot go on like this indefinitely as every day that passes, the risk rises.”
Crew fatigue was also making ships unsafe. “This will really put supply chains under threat, that’s how serious it is,” Mr Platten told The National.
“If ships can’t sail, they can’t deliver the goods, not merely food or medical supplies at a moment when some economies are recovering and when they really need to keep supply chains running.”
He called on governments to show the political will to prioritise seafarers as essential workers and allow them to travel freely.
In a column for The National, Mr Platten called on other governments to following the example set by the UAE, Britain and America.
“By leading from the front and doing everything in its power to expedite crew change, the UAE can set an example for the world to follow. We cannot overstate the urgency.”
Usually 100,000 workers are repatriated every month but since the pandemic struck in March, only 25 per cent of the normal number of crew changes have taken place.
Former UK transport minister Nusrat Ghani told The National that world shipping was at a “critical point” because without seafarers working “we are in an absolute bind”.
“Seafarers are the ones keeping our supermarket food shelves stocked, they are the ones that ensure medicines are imported, keep industries afloat, without them the rest of the country cannot function.
“Seafarers are out at sea and out of mind but everything in our homes is there because they are at work, shipping goods to us.”
With a further worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus looming, swift action was now required, the IMO said. “The uncertainty around a possible second wave of Covid-19 underscores the need for swift action to allow crew changes and avoid further consequences to the fragile global supply chain.”
There are growing concerns over mental health after sailors missed their own weddings, births of their children and funerals of relatives after they were stuck in port for months. A number have taken their own lives. The onboard issues “could lead to serious maritime accidents”, the IMO warned.
“We are 14 months on board … send us home for vacation to refresh our fatigue and pressure,” wrote stranded sailor Enrique Sumayo on the IMO Facebook page.
In a plea to other countries to ease restrictions, Nawsad Amin, an engineer, said: “Need to take more steps quickly. Many vessels’ environment is going down day by day, which can result in increasing accidents and fighting.”
Other sailors begged for countries to open up international flights to get people home. In many countries, seafarers provide income for extended families but those 200,000 trapped at home are now without a wage.
A spokesman for Seafarers UK said: “Our big problem is that people have been asked to work beyond their contract’s expiry date and, when they are fatigued, the likelihood of serious accidents increases and inevitably there have been examples of seafarers taking their own lives.
“It will, of course, have an impact on the world food trade because if crews aren’t available, ship movements are interrupted. That impact will be felt most seriously by countries dependent on shipping.” Source: The National
The following announcement from KiwiRail concerns changes at Southdown.
We’re proud that our Southdown Container Transfer site is the third largest container handling facility in New Zealand and a critical part of many of our customers’ supply chains. Each year we handle around 450,000 TEU through this site.
Over the past five years we’ve invested over $30 million at Southdown to improve service, resilience and support growth:
• Truck entry laneways have been streamlined for KiwiRail, MetroPort and MetroBox container flows • New top lifters to meet the growing freight volumes • New reefer towers to handle increasing demand for temperature controlled cargo • Upgraded rail grids for MetroPort • Improved site traffic management systems
We’re now about to introduce two new initiatives to further improve the speed and flow of containers through Southdown for our road transport partners.
Vehicle Booking System to speed-up container throughput
With up to 1,200 trucks visiting our Southdown site each day to either deliver and/or uplift containers, and with only the Port of Tauranga’s Metroport part of the site currently operating a Vehicle Booking System (VBS) we are aware that congestion can become a real issue at certain times, as a result of trucking operators having to queue up to enter the site.
To ensure that the whole site is able to run more smoothly and to provide a more streamlined and faster process for all of our customers, KiwiRail is going to introduce a VBS which will apply to all non-Metroport volumes later this year. This will result in a reduction in average truck queueing times across the whole site.
The VBS will be an online tool, using the same product as that used by the Port of Tauranga’s Metroport operation at Southdown.
This will mean that not only will the whole site now use a VBS, but by having the same system as that already in place with Metroport, it should significantly improve the experience for many operators.
By being able to book specific container delivery or uplift timeslots, it will enable truck arrivals at the site to be more evenly spread across each day.
This will result in faster truck turn times due to reduced queuing times, thereby increasing truck productivity and efficiency and provide a general improvement in on-site safety through a reduction in overall site congestion.
Having the same VBS will also help minimise any training requirements, as trucking companies currently servicing Metroport will already be very familiar with using it and for any new users, we will be arranging all necessary training for your staff at no cost to you.
While there will be a cost for the use of the VBS, just as with all other such systems, we are firmly of the view that the improvements this will provide transport operators through increases in fleet productivity, will provide much greater value than the system’s cost to use.
Please note that we are not currently intending to introduce a VBS at any other of our container transfer sites at this time.
We will provide further updates on this initiative once we have a confirmed start date for the system, including how we plan to roll out the required training we will be providing to all new users.
We are also going to be installing a brand new, fully certified weighbridge at our Southdown site which will be available for use by both customers and the general public.
It will be positioned near the entrance of the site, so it is easily accessible not just for truck operators wishing to enter the site, but also for those who simply want to have their trucks check-weighed.
At this stage we expect the weighbridge to be commissioned and available for use before the end of the year and we will provide you with more information about processes and proposed charges for using it, prior to it becoming operational.
We trust you will find these as positive enhancements to our services and we look forward to being able to commission both in the near future.
A top freight executive says no shipping company would choose Manukau Harbour as a potential new destination for an Auckland port.
A report by economic consultancy Sapere published yesterday ranked Manukau Harbour as the best option. It considered Northport, Manukau, the Firth of Thames, the Port of Tauranga and a shared increase in capacity at both Northport and the Port of Tauranga.
An earlier report, backed by New Zealand First, identified Northport at Marsden Point as the best option. The report was completed by a Government working group led by former Far North mayor Wayne Brown.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff called the previous Northport work “shoddy” and Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it “had a clearly predetermined outcome” in favour of moving the port to Marsden Point.
New Zealand First still backs Northport as a new location, with MP Shane Jones saying Manukau was the most treacherous harbour in the country and unfit as an alternative site for Ports of Auckland.
Carr and Haslam director Chris Carr said he didn’t know how the Sapere report had come up with Manukau Harbour.
“It’s probably about the only time in the world I’ll ever agree with Shane Jones,” Carr told told Morning Report.
“The prevailing weather comes in on the western side of the country. Ports don’t exist in the west coast of New Zealand, they exist on the east coast.
“I’m no maritime person but all the shipping companies say that they won’t go to the west coast and that in itself would tend to make Manukau the first shipless port that we’d have in the country.
“It’s simply not suitable operationally and it wouldn’t work no matter how much we might try and make it fit.”
If the port had to be moved from Auckland it should be to somewhere ships can get in and out safely, he said.
“You also want to go somewhere near the largest consumption area which is the Auckland-Tauranga-Hamilton-Waikato area.
“The only place you can do that is the Firth of Thames. It’s not ideal.”
He agreed with the Sapere report that Ports of Auckland could keep operating for more than 30 years before it ran out of space where it was.
“But New Zealand’s not good at doing this sort of stuff and we take so long to do it that we need to start working at it and looking at it.
“If you look at it from a logistical point of view, the decisions become quite easy – it’s when you get politics involved it becomes quite hard.
“The shipping companies who in the end of the day determine where their vessels come would not choose Manukau, ever.”
Shane Jones told Morning Report he had come off second best to people opposed to a relocation to Northland.
“I had professionally and personally campaigned with my leader for the expansion of Northport and relocation of Ports of Auckland activity to Tauranga and Northland,” he said.
He invoked the sinking of the Orpheus in 1863, in which 189 people died, as reason to not build a port at Manukau Harbour.
“I will prophesy that a thousand years will pass before a new port will ever be located in Manukau Harbour.
“[The Sapere report] wants to take us over the bar of the most treacherous harbour in New Zealand and dredge to a level of spill that will rival Mt Cook somewhere in New Zealand or it’ll be dumped in the ocean.”
Jones said work on a new port needed to “get cracking” in 10 to 15 years.
“In New Zealand we leave too many infrastructure decisions to the last minute.”
No decision is to be made before the election, leaving it for political parties to campaign on.
In 2019, the international liner shipping industry transported approximately 226 million containers, with cargo transported valued at more than $4 trillion. Proper packing, stowage and securing of containers and reporting of correct weight are very important to the safety of a container ship, its crew, and its cargo, to shore-based workers and equipment, and to the environment. However, even with proper packing of the cargo into the container, correct container weight declaration, and proper stowage and securing aboard ship, a number of factors ranging from severe weather and rough seas to more catastrophic and rare events like ship groundings, structural failures, and collisions can result in containers being lost at sea. Since 2011, the World Shipping Council (WSC) has undertaken a survey of its members to accurately estimate the number of containers that are lost at sea each year. The WSC’s member companies operate more than three quarters of the global containership capacity; thus, a survey of their losses provides a valid basis for a meaningful estimate of the total number of containers lost at sea. The 2020 update gathered information from years 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Methodology of the Surveys In each of the surveys conducted in 2011, 2014, 2017, and 2020 the WSC member companies were asked to report the number of containers lost overboard for the preceding three years. For the 2020 report, all WSC member companies responded and together, they represent 80% of the total global vessel container capacity deployed at the time of the survey. WSC assumes for the purpose of its analysis that the container losses for the 20% of the industry’s capacity that is operated by carriers that did not participate in the survey would be roughly equivalent to the losses reported by the responding carriers representing 80% of the industry’s capacity.
The total annual figure reported by WSC members is adjusted upward to provide an estimated loss figure for all carriers, both WSC members and non-members, to arrive at an estimate of total containers lost. As expected, some carriers lost no containers during the period, while others noted a significant incident where hundreds of containers were lost in a single event.
There are more than 6,000 ships carrying containers around the world at any point in time. In previous surveys, WSC asked members to distinguish between losses that occurred because of a catastrophic event on a single sailing, defined as one where 50 containers or more were lost in a single incident, and non-catastrophic losses. This distinction was in part aimed at getting some insight into the general nature of losses. The conclusion after twelve years is that more than half of all containers lost at sea are attributable to the limited number of major incidents that have occurred during those years.
However, the industry recognizes that all containers lost at sea represent safety and environmental hazards regardless of how and when those containers were lost. Accordingly, the 2020 Update to the Containers Lost at Sea Survey no longer differentiates between catastrophic and non-catastrophic losses and includes only total containers lost at sea. It is this number that the industry seeks to reduce, and we continue to work with governments and other interested stakeholders to identify losses, their causes, and actionable solutions to reduce the losses in the future.
Upon review of the results of the twelve-year period (2008-2019) surveyed, the WSC estimates that there were on average a total of 1,382 containers lost at sea each year. With twelve years of data, it is particularly interesting to look at the trend of three-year averages, reported in each of the survey updates. In the first period (2008-2010), total losses averaged 675 per year and then quadrupled to an average of 2,683 per year in the next period (2011-2013). This was due in large part to the sinking of the MOL Comfort (2013) that resulted in a loss of 4,293 containers and further impacted by the grounding and loss of M/V Rena (2011) resulting in approximately 900 containers lost. Fortunately, there have not been such significant losses in a single incident reported since.
Nevertheless, the next period (2014-2016) was marked by another vessel sinking with the tragic total loss of the SS El Faro (2015) with the loss of 33 crew members and 517 containers. Even with that, the three-year average annual loss for the period was 1,390, about half that of the previous period. The downward trend continued into the most recent period (2017-2019) when the 3-year average annual loss was almost halved again to 779. There were no individual losses as significant as those noted in the previous periods, which is a welcome development. However, 2018 and 2019 were marked with a few incidents that each lost more than 100 containers.
Active Safety Improvement Initiatives Containers lost overboard represent less than one thousandth of 1% of the roughly 226 million containers currently shipped each year. Nevertheless, the liner shipping industry remains committed to continuing to partner with governments and other stakeholders to enhance container safety in order to further reduce the number of containers lost at sea, including:
• Amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention: On July 1, 2016 changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention requiring verification of container weights before packed containers may be loaded aboard ships went into effect. This is an effort WSC advocated in support of for many years. The requirement makes container weight verification a legally binding condition for vessel loading. Mis-declared container weights have contributed to the loss of containers at sea, as well as to other safety and operational problems. For more information about this issue, visit: http://www.worldshipping.org/industry-issues/safety/cargo-weight
• Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code): The IMO, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), with industry support, produced a code of practice for the packing of CTU, including containers, outlining specific procedures and techniques to improve safety, such as how to ensure correct distribution of the weight inside the container, proper positioning, blocking and bracing according to the type of cargo, and other safety considerations. The code was approved in late 2014, and work to revise it is scheduled to commence in the near future. For more information about this and other initiatives related to the improved safety of handling containers, visit: http://www.worldshipping.org/industry- issues/safety/containers
• Revised ISO standards for container lashing equipment and corner castings: In support of the IMO’s efforts to enhance container safety, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), with the industry’s active participation, revised its standards regarding lashing equipment and corner castings and the new standards went into effect in 2015. Both standards are poised to be revised in the near future. For more information about this issue visit: http://www.worldshipping.org/industry- issues/safety/containers
• Discrepancy in container stacking strength: WSC, working together with other industry associations, proposed to the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC) 6 in September 2019 to align the Safe Container Convention (CSC)’s and ISO 1496-1 container stacking strength requirements, noting that the existing discrepancy might have significant safety implications, including collapsed container stacks and containers lost at sea. However, CCC 6 was not able to agree on specific steps but instead invited interested
delegations to develop a proposal for a new output for consideration by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee. WSC staff continues to engage with various parties for how best to address the current discrepancy in container stacking strength.
• Mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea: WSC is a co-sponsor of a submission to IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) 102 by the European Union with a proposal for a new output on the mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea. The liner shipping industry supports such a mandatory reporting requirement and will continue to advocate for an early implementation of an effective and practical requirement.
• Revision of the IMO’s guidelines for the inspection programs for cargo transport units, including containers: CCC 6 agreed, in principle, to amend the IMO guidelines for inspection programs in order to: 1) further clarify that the selection criteria should be applied equally to CTUs carrying all types of cargoes, rather than being specifically applied on those declared to be carrying dangerous goods; 2) to adequately refer to the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code); and 3) to cover the reports from non-governmental organizations. A drafting group and subsequently a correspondence group have been reviewing the current guidelines, but further work is required before new revised guidelines may be adopted by the Sub-Committee. WSC has been a participant on both groups.
There are over 6,000 containerships continuously operating on the world’s seas and waterways linking continents and providing vital supplies to communities around the globe. The liner shipping industry’s goal remains to keep the loss of containers carried on those ships as close to zero as possible. Carriers will continue to explore and implement preventive and realistic measures to make that happen and welcome continued cooperation from governments and other stakeholders to accomplish this goal. Source: World Shipping Council