An investigation of the Dutch Safety Board into the container loss incident involving MSC Zoe has found that the shipping routes above the Wadden Islands during northwestern storms pose a risk for a container loss for large, wide container ships.
Above the Wadden Islands there are two internationally designated shipping routes, a northern and a southern route.
The investigation by the Dutch Safety Board has revealed that a combination of a number of phenomena means that on both the southern and northern shipping routes, there is a risk of loss of containers.
The Wadden area is an internationally recognized nature are, vulnerable to pollution.
MSC Zoe lost 342 containers and three million kilograms of cargo fell into the sea on the night of 1 to 2 January 2019, as the ship was traveling from Sines in Portugal to Bremerhaven in Germany with more than 8,000 containers on board.
The cargo comprised a wide range of items and packaging materials that on the subsequent days washed ashore on the coastline of the Wadden Islands.
Two investigations were launched: a combined international investigation with Panama and Germany into the course of events of the accident and an investigation by the Dutch Safety Board into the risks on the shipping routes north of the Wadden area.
The investigation into the course of events has revealed that the MSC ZOE lost cargo at six locations. The extreme forces acting on the ship, the containers and the lashing systems as a result of specific conditions on this shipping route were the primary cause of the loss of containers.
“The MSC ZOE accident of January 2019 was very regrettable and required a substantial response operation costing several tens of millions of euros overseen and funded by MSC, in full coordination with the Dutch and German authorities,” MSC said in a statement.
“After the incident, MSC made its own decision to avoid the southern sailing route for subsequent voyages and we will continue to follow official guidance on designated container shipping routes in the North Sea, if and when such guidance evolves.”
MSC noted that the MSC ZOE response operation has uncovered an enormous amount of debris underwater from many different shipping activities and accidents dating back to long before container shipping began.
“We are committed to minimising the risk of such accidents in future,” the company added.
The international report has recommended the Panamanian, German and Dutch governments to review the technical requirements imposed on container ships in an IMO context.
More specifically, this concerns:
- the design requirements for lashing systems and containers,
- the requirements for loading and stability of container ships,
- obligations with regard to instruments providing insight into roll motions and accelerations, and
- the technical possibilities for detecting container loss.
The German and Dutch governments have also been advised to investigate, in cooperation with Denmark, the need for additional measures on these shipping routes or adjustments to the routes and to submit a proposal to the IMO on that basis.