The number of containers lost at sea last year represented the lowest share all boxes shipped on the ocean since 2008, according to a report from the World Shipping Council (WSC).

There were 661 boxes that went overboard during 2022, representing 0.00026% of all 250m seaborne packed and empty containers shipped globally throughout the year, the report by the liner industry group said.

The WSC report did not give specific numbers of lost boxes during prior years back to 2008, but a graph showed that about 2,200 boxes were lost in 2021 and almost 4,000 went into the sea in 2020.

“It is impossible to say exactly why numbers are so much lower this year compared to the previous two years,” WSC spokeswoman Anna Larsson told TradeWinds.

“We remain focused on making the container supply chain ever safer and reducing the number of containers lost at sea.”

The WSC did say in the report, however, that the group and several member lines have partnered on several initiatives to improve container shipping safety, such as the Marin Top Tier Project and performing studies on the strengths of containers and lashing gear.

The organisation took its data for the report from Alphaliner, which does have exact numbers on containers lost and shipped, but its website could not be accessed at the time of this writing.

The WSC noted that Ocean Network Express’ 14,000-teu ONE Apus (built 2019) lost 1,816 boxes on 30 November 2020 about 1,600 nautical miles (2,963 km) northwest of Hawaii, while sailing in bad weather from China to the US West Coast.

The group also mentioned AP-Moller Maersk-operated 13,092-teu Maersk Essen (built 2010) losing about 750 boxes in the Pacific basin, while also travelling in stormy weather from China to the US.

The report, which gave figures in three-year periods, showed that the average number of boxes lost per year from 2014 to 2016 came in at 1,309 boxes — in great part due to the 1,200-teu El Faro (built 1975) sinking in October 2015 —while an average of 779 boxes were lost per year from 2017 to 2019.

“The average annual loss for the two-year period 2020-2021 saw an increase to 3,113 from the 779 of the previous period, driven by major incidents,” the WSC said in the report.

There were 2,301 boxes per year lost on average from 2020 to 2022.

The average number of boxes lost per year quadrupled from 675 boxes per year lost on average from 2008 to 2010 to 2,683 boxes from 2011 to 2013, according to the WSC report.

This was in large part due to Mitsui OSK Line’s 8,110-teu MOL Comfort (built 2008) sinking with 4,293 containers in July 2013 and the 2011 grounding and breakup of the 3,029-teu Rena (built 1990) that resulted in the loss of about 900 boxes.