Guidelines for the Safe Transport of Containers
In November of 2009, the World Shipping Council (WSC) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) published “Safe Transport of Containers by Sea: Guidelines on Best Practices”. The Guide provides recommended best practices for ships, port facilities, and shippers in the loading and handling of cargo containers.
Containers Lost at Sea
How many containers actually are lost at sea? For years, many different numbers were quoted in answer to this question but none were ever substantiated. So, in 2011, The World Shipping Council conducted the first survey of its members in order to establish a credible estimate. Then, in 2014, WSC conducted another survey and issued an updated report. Combining the results of the two WSC surveys over the six year period from 2008 to 2013, the WSC estimates that there were on average 546 containers lost at sea each year, not counting catastrophic events, and on average a total of 1,679 containers lost at sea each year including catastrophic events. These numbers are well below the unsupported and grossly inaccurate figures often reported. Any loss of a container at sea is a loss that carriers seek to prevent and the industry's goal continues to be to reduce those losses to as close to zero as possible.
Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labour Office (ILO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) "Guidelines for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU)" were pubished in 1997 and recognized as being in need of an update. Therefore, following the recommendations of a Global Dialogue Forum organized by the ILO in early 2011, the three organizations (IMO/ILO/UNECE) decided to develop a joint "Code of Practice" for the packing of intermodal Cargo Transport Units (CTU). A group of experts, of which WSC was a member, was tasked with developing the new CTU Code.During the course of 2014, the CTU Code was approved by the governing bodies of the three UN organinzations and has now replaced the 1997 guidelines. In addition, informative material, while not formally a part of the CTU Code, has been developed to support users of the CTU Code. The IMO has published the CTU code and the CTU Code Informative Material as two individual circulars. Additional information about the background and development of the CTU Code is available on the UNECE website.
Lashing of Containers Aboard Ships
Lashing is the process used to secure containers on board ships. For a number of years, the industry has participated in a joint effort between industry and government, known as Lashing@Sea, which is led by the Maritime Research Institute of the Netherlands (MARIN) to identify additional measures to prevent the loss of containers overboard. Additionally, the World Shipping Council has been working with the International Standards Organization (ISO) to amend the relevant ISO standard to require that containers with reduced stacking or racking capacity be marked accordingly so they can be identified, stowed and lashed safely on the ship. This requirement has also been included in the IMO's Safe Container Convention and International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. In addition to new containers, the requirement applies to all existing containers with reduced stacking or racking capacity by no later than 1 July 2015. As part of its efforts to enhance container safety, the IMO has requested the ISO to review its standards regarding lashing equipment and corner castings. Work is at hand at the ISO on these issues with the industry's active participation. The IMO has also issued Revised Guidelines for the Cargo Securing Manual that must be developed for all containerships and which prescribes how containers are to be loaded, stowed and secured throughout the voyage. Proper loading, stowage and lashing, when combined with the new requirement to verify the weight of packed containers prior to stowage aboard a ship, is expected to improve the safety of container transport.