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Maersk Line has confirmed that around 520 containers were lost from the deck of the Svendborg Maersk when it got caught in a severe storm in the notorious Bay of Biscay on Friday February 14.

The better news is that approximately 85% of the containers washed overboard in the 10-metre waves were empties, some relief for European shippers anxious about the status of their cargo. However, full, empty or not, many will remain afloat for a while, mostly submerged and presenting a significant iceberg-like danger to small craft.

Depending on who you talk to, it is estimated that between 2,000 and 10,000 containers fall into the sea from containerships every year out of the six million-plus that are transported – do the maths on the percentage.

However, in this blog for Vero Marine, the authors calculate the length of time it takes for a container to sink – for an empty 40-footer this can be as long as 183 days!

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