Image source: Kees Torn
2019 has taken its first container casualties of the year, highlighting the importance of ensuring that relevant insurance is in place when importing or exporting goods.
The MSC Zoe, one of the world’s largest container vessels, has reportedly lost at least 270 containers overboard when the cargo ship was caught in rough seas whilst battling a storm off of the German - Dutch coast during the night of the 1 – 2 January.
The vessel was en-route from Sines, Portugal to Bremerhaven, Germany when the containers went overboard not far from the German island of Borkum.
21 containers have reportedly been washed ashore, the contents of which have been reported to include toys, furniture, spare parts and clothing. Three other missing containers are said to contain dangerous organic peroxides, which can cause irritation if breathed in. It is believed that these containers would likely have sunk.
The Dutch coastguard is due to deploy a plane to search for missing containers today. MSC have also started their own clean-up operation, with a salvage company appointed to coordinate the retrieval of cargo and undertake beach cleaning, whilst they have also arranged the deployment of specialist ships equipped with sonar to search for missing cargo at sea.
Following the incident, MSC Zoe slowly continued to move North for cargo discharge operations at Bremehaven, with an inventory underway to assess the amount of containers lost and any other damages which may have been obtained.
In an incident such as this, it is almost certain that General Average – a maritime principle designed to spread risk, by dividing up any costs incurred proportionately - will be declared. Therefore, for peace of mind, you should always ensure that you have appropriate insurance against your goods and any additional costs that may be incurred should you be subject to be party to such an incident, as rare as they are.