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Vessels to be obliged to report container losses

From 1 January 2026, it will be mandatory to report containers lost at sea. This has now been decided by the IMO.

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 108) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). From 1 January 2026, all containers lost at sea must be reported.

According to the information provided, this is intended to set a new standard for maritime safety and environmental protection. The World Shipping Council (WSC) welcomed the latest IMO regulations. “Ensuring prompt and detailed reporting of lost and drifting containers will enhance the safety of shipping, facilitate rapid response actions and mitigate potential environmental hazards,” says Lars Kjaer, SVP Safety & Security at the WSC. The most important provisions of the new regulations:

  • Regulation 31 – Notification by the master of the vessel

The master of a ship involved in the loss of containers must immediately and fully report specific details to nearby ships, the nearest coastal state and the flag state.
The flag state then forwards this information to the IMO via a new module of the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS).
Masters of ships observing drifting containers must report this to neighbouring ships and the nearest coastal State.

  • Regulation 32 – Reporting details

For containers lost at sea, reports must be made as soon as possible and will be updated as further information becomes available. A final count of lost containers must be confirmed after a thorough inspection. Mandatory information includes the position of the lost containers, the total number of containers lost and whether they contained dangerous goods. Additional descriptive information is required where possible.

661 containers went overboard in 2022

Masters can also provide voluntary information about the cargo, sea conditions and more. The reports must then include the position and total number of drifting containers.

In anticipation of the introduction of mandatory reporting, the WSC has been collecting information from its members on the number of containers lost at sea since 2008. The report, which is regularly published in the Containers Lost at Sea Report and submitted to the IMO, is an important source of information for all efforts to increase container and cargo safety. A total of 661 boxes were reported lost overboard in 2022. The “Containers Lost at Sea Report – 2024 Update” will be published in the coming weeks and contains data for the year 2023.

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