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Do Many Shipping Containers Get Lost at Sea?

Anyone who's ever gone on an ocean cruise has probably seen some amazing things, like breaching whales and incredible sunsets. Cruise passengers probably won't have seen any lost shipping containers -- but it's not for a lack of them. According to the World Shipping Council, international shipping companies accidentally drop hundreds of containers into the ocean every year. As a percentage of all maritime cargo, though, the number of lost containers is very small, considering that cargo ships transport approximately 130 million containers worth around $4 trillion USD each year. The World Shipping Council estimated that between 2014 and 2016, the average number of containers lost at sea every year was 1,390, with a majority of the losses due to catastrophic events, such as structural failures and collisions.

Shipping on the high seas:

  • Of the approximately 1.5 million employees in ocean shipping, less than 2 percent are women.
  • On average, pirates commandeer two ocean freighters every day.
  • The largest container ship ever built is the OOCL Hong Kong, which can transport more than 21,000 containers.
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