A large shipping freighter lost over 500 containers at sea when it was bombarded by 30-foot waves and 60-knot winds off the Atlantic coast of Europe. The Svendborg, owned by The Maersk Group, was traveling from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Sri Lanka via the Suez Canal. It is currently docked at the Bay of Biscay, where its owners are trying to calculate the total damage and losses.
There is no current requirement by any international organizations for ships to declare losses at sea, so no one is entirely sure how often such incidents take place. However, CNN reports that The Through Transport Club, a shipping insurance company, estimates that about 2000 containers are lost every year.
Many environmental groups are concerned that these losses can have a traumatic impact on wildlife populations, not to mention fishing vessels and other boats. Containers typically sink as soon as they hit the water, but Robin des Bois, a French environmental advocacy organization, says that some refrigerated containers could stay afloat for months.
Given how little we know about how frequently these types of incidents occur, it is critical for boaters to ensure that their vessels are equipped with communication and navigational tools that will help them identify hazards before it's too late. Having a marine transducer, chartplotter and marine GPS on board can be a lifesaver for anticipating violent weather, as well as for catching underwater obstructions before they damage your hull.
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