Containership Loses Boxes in North Sea Storm off the Netherlands

container collapse in North Sea
Dutch Coast Guard emergency tug Guardian searched for the boxes that went overboard (Kustwacht Nederland)

Published Feb 21, 2022 1:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

A containership sailing in the North Sea reported a container collapse with boxes lost overboard. Dutch authorities launched a search for the boxes in the area of the Wadden Islands in the southeast portion of the North Sea near the border between the Netherlands and Germany while a fierce winter storm, the fourth of 2022, cut across Northern Europe leaving a path of damage.

The Panama-registered Marcos V was sailing from Bremerhaven, Germany to Rotterdam when it encountered the storm in the North Sea. The Dutch Coast Guard and other European authorities had issued weather warnings as the fierce storm moved across the region. In the UK top wind speeds were recorded at 122 mph with reports of at least four people killed while near Rotterdam at the Hoek van Holland facility winds were clocked at 88 mph. Cross Channel ferries suspended service while in Rotterdam drivers were warned to stay off the roads.  

The 961-foot long containership reported the incident to the Dutch Coast Guard on February 19 saying that at least 26 empty 40-foot containers had been lost overboard while images showed additional boxes hanging from the side of the ship and several stacks collapsed. The Marcos V is a 17-year-old containership, which was sold last year to Euroseas, has a capacity of 6350 TEU. Seas in the area where she was sailing were reported to be running at approximately 26 feet. 

The Coast Guard’s emergency tug Guardian was already at sea and diverted to the area to begin the search for the containers. When the weather improved, she was joined with aircraft also searching for the containers. 

The Dutch public works authority, Rijkswaterstaat, also joined in the effort. They reported that the shipping company had also retained a recovery company that will begin searching the area north of Vlieland when the weather conditions improved with the search expected to last for about a week. They also reported that they would be holding the shipowner liable. The Marcos V arrived Saturday afternoon in Rotterdam.



Reporting that they had been unable to find the containers, the Dutch Coast Guard suspended the search while remaining on standby. Mariners were alerted to the danger in the area while beach goers were told to report any debris. 

The issue of lost containers remains a challenge for the shipping industry. Maersk, for example, announced in its 2021 sustainability report that it will now be publishing data on its annual container losses. In the past decade, they said on average they have lost 30 containers a year with the figure ranging between zero and 110. However, in 2021 they lost 962 containers, consisting of 727 from the Essen Maersk and 235 from the Eindhoven Maersk. Another significant loss in the past decade was in 2014 when 553 containers went overboard. Maersk noted that it was mainly due to adverse weather conditions.