Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), operators of the MSC Zoe from which around 281 containers went overboard, confirms that significant progress has been made in an unprecedented clean-up operation in the North Sea and on the beaches of the Netherlands and Germany..
As per MSC, Sonar-assisted search has helped locate hundreds of objects in the water in recent days which includes 21 entire containers, and these are being evaluated by MSC’s contractors and the authorities..
A number of other contractors appointed by MSC have also been instructed for salvage and beach-cleaning on various sites..
It has been reported that by deploying 4×4 vehicles, tractors and specialist equipment such as a beach vacuum-cleaners the response operation has achieved significant progress on the Frisian islands of Terschelling, Vlieland, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, in the Wadden Sea and on the mainland. In total 1220 metric tons of debris has been collected..
In an interesting development though, Loadstar is reporting that apart from concerns surrounding the stowage planning and lashing especially around rows seven, eight and nine, from where the boxes fell overboard, concerns have also been raised about the speed at which the MSC Zoe was travelling at the time of the incident..
As per Loadstar, pictures from the Dutch Coast Guard shows that the containers which landed in the sea have not been secured by lashing rods..
Container lashing, which is the process of securing containers together on board the ship poses one of the greatest areas of risks in any cargo handling operations especially with containers loaded on the deck of the ship..
Stevedores are responsible at the ports for lashing and unlashing the containers while the ship is in port, but due to the size of the ships these days, reduced port stay and time constraints the ship’s crew also do the lashing and unlashing..
Once the containers are loaded, lashing crews work on securing the containers to each other and also to the ship’s structure using a variety of lashing material such as lashing rods, turnbuckles, twist-locks, lashing bridges, bridge fittings etc..
The lashing is necessary to prevent containers from moving or falling off during the sea voyage and also at times when it enters areas of rough weather..
Sometimes the lashing could be strong enough to keep the containers together even the stacks collapse.. See the images from a previous MSC container ship disaster..
As per Wärtsilä
The 40ft ends have a lashing gap of minimum 700mm, so that lashing can be applied. If two 20ft containers are positioned on one 40ft place, the gap is 76mm wide and it is not possible to use lashing and the stack weight is limited to 50t.
It is a rare practice to link adjacent stacks of containers. Skipping the job substantially simplifies loading and discharging operations. It is, however, sometimes necessary to link an outboard stack to the adjacent stack to help resist wind loading.
At a wind speed of 90 miles per hour, the wind force is about 2 tonnes on the side of a 20-foot box and about 4 tonnes on a 40-foot box.
This investigation would be a learning curve for many people on many levels.. Would be interesting to see the results when it does conclude..