It may come as a surprise, but not everything that is loaded onto a ship always makes it to its destination. Shipping sea containers occasionally fall into the sea due to storms, heavy seas, accidents, or malfunctions.

How can shipping containers end up in the sea?

Even with all of today's cutting-edge technology, the ocean remains a dangerous and unpredictable environment. A variety of tragedies can occur at sea, but the major responsibility for vessel owners is the safety of their workers and the vessels themselves. This indicates that sea containers may be sacrificed for the sake of the vessels’ and crews' safety.

What happens after shipping containers fall overboard? 

Not all sea containers that go overboard sink far into the sea and vanish. They float for a while depending on the contents of the containers. It is estimated that there are around 12,000 containers drifting in the water. Those that float for a long enough period of time may make it to the beach.

Who is responsible, and what is the legislation in the case of lost containers?

Typically, the shipping company is responsible for the misplaced sea containers and is insured for this type of situation. Even though the shipping firm provides insurance, shippers should be insured as well because the shipping company's liability is frequently limited to a particular amount per kilogram.

A transport insurance policy covers not only damage or loss of the client's goods, but also General Average. The expense of, say, rescuing the vessel and containers is divided equally among the goods owners and the vessel owner based on the costs of the items being transported — even if the goods are intact.

What about discovering those misplaced containers while strolling around the beach?

You might be wondering if you can claim any containers you come upon on the beach. The answer varies based on where you find these misplaced containers. For example, claiming missing containers on German soil would be prohibited. Taking things that have washed up onshore, on the other hand, is not unlawful in the Netherlands. However, if the container is sealed, opening it is prohibited.

Protecting yourself against container loss at sea 

In the occurrence of a large sea container loss, even if your containers survive, you will not be able to reclaim them for weeks or months. As a result, it is critical to have a plan in place and prioritize supply chain resilience. When your sea containers are stranded on a vessel or at a wrong port, backup suppliers and routes can be a lifesaver. While there isn't much you can do about these situations, you can at least keep your inventory levels safe.

Insurance is your only safeguard against container loss at sea. It is impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of sea container loss, so the best approach is to expect that it will occur and plan appropriately.

Make certain that your insurance covers you in all parts of the world. Some insurance policies only cover specific areas. It is usual for carriers to reroute when there is port congestion. As a result, it would not be strange if your container moved outside of the locations covered by your insurance.

Container insurance is a relatively small percentage of the value of your goods, and not insuring would be an expensive mistake.
If you want to learn more about container insurance, please contact one of our specialists to ensure that all of your belongings are protected. We offer high-quality freight forwarding services that reduce the danger of container loss at sea.