Thousands of containers could be damaged in addition to 1,816 lost

Kim Link-Wills, Senior Editor

Now that the ONE Apus has berthed in Japan, investigators can begin to sort through what could be thousands of damaged containers on the ship’s deck. This is in addition to the 1,816 containers reported lost at sea.

Ocean Network Express reported 1,816 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) fell from the ONE Apus as it sailed from Yantian, China, to Long Beach, California, last week.

Photographs from Kobe, Japan, posted on social media to document the vessel’s arrival Tuesday illustrate just how beaten up the ONE Apus, with a carrying capacity of 14,052 TEUs, was by a reported violent storm cell about 1,600 nautical miles from Hawaii on Nov. 30. Towers of containers lean like a forest of felled trees. Other boxes hang precariously, poised it seems to soon drop into the sea.

In addition to the photos, social media posts are floating speculation that cargo claims from one of the worst-ever container losses could top $50 million.

“A full safety inspection of the vessel and its remaining cargo will now take place with the assistance of local emergency services to ensure that there is no threat to people or the environment posed by the dislodged and damaged containers that remain on deck,” an update on ONE’s website said Tuesday.

“Once the vessel and cargo are declared safe, surveyors from the various stakeholders will make their initial assessments whilst stowage planners and stevedores formulate and implement a plan to ensure the safe removal of the remaining units,” ONE said. “Then a thorough evaluation will be made on the exact number and type of containers that have been lost or damaged and damage to the vessel.”

Of the 1,816 containers lost, the contents of only 64 have been reported. That’s because those carried declared dangerous goods, according to the vessel’s owner, Chidori Ship Holding, and manager, NYK Shipmanagement. Fifty-four held fireworks, eight had batteries and two contained liquid ethanol.

There has been no indication when customers could learn the status of their freight — whether that be lost at sea, damaged during transit or in deliverable condition.  

Henry Byers, FreightWaves’ maritime market expert, has said the top importers using ONE as their ocean carrier into the Port of Long Beach the past 30 days were Flexport International, MOL Consolidation, Topocean Consolidation, UPS Ocean Freight Services, DHL Global Forwarding, Kuehne + Nagel and C.H. Robinson.