Mayview Maersk lost goods

Lost containers must be reported under new rules agreed at the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee 108th session.

Under recently adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974, the masters involved in the loss of containers must immediately report specific details to nearby ships, the nearest coastal state, and the flag State, starting from 1 January 2026.

Under the new regulation the immediate reporting by the Master must include the position of the lost containers, the total number lost, and if any contained dangerous goods.

Masters can also share voluntary details about the cargo, sea conditions, and more.

The flag State will then pass this information to the IMO via a new module in the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS).

Reports must be made as soon as possible, with updates as more information becomes available, whilst a final count of lost containers must be confirmed after a thorough inspection.

Masters of ships that observe drifting containers must report it to nearby ships and the nearest coastal state.

“The new regulations, specifically amending SOLAS Chapter V Regulations 31 and 32, mark a significant advancement in maritime safety and environmental protection. By ensuring prompt and detailed reporting of lost and drifting containers, these amendments will enhance navigational safety, facilitate swift response actions, and mitigate potential environmental hazards,” said Lars Kjaer, SVP Safety & Security for WSC.

“Starting January 1, 2026, these amendments will require mandatory reporting of all containers lost at sea, setting a new standard for maritime safety and environmental protection,” reads the statement of the World Shipping Council (WSC).

The latest figures from WSC for the containers lost at sea show just 221 containers were lost at sea in 2023, out of 250 million transported.

Of the containers lost, about 33% were recovered.

This represents the lowest losses since the start of the survey in 2008, and a significant improvement on the previous lowest-ever loss of 661 containers in 2022.

“The reduction in containers lost at sea in 2023 is a positive development, but it does not diminish the urgency of our work. Every container lost at sea represents a potential hazard, and our commitment to preventing these incidents must be unwavering,” said John Butler, chief executive of the World Shipping Council.