Maersk Loses Containers Overboard in North Sea with Debris Washing Ashore

Mayview Maersk containership
Mayview Maersk in 2017 (Kees Torn photo - CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

Published Dec 23, 2023 7:27 PM by The Maritime Executive


There are widespread reports of debris washing up on beaches along the northern part of Denmark’s North Sea shoreline after a Maersk containership lost boxes overboard. The shipping line is confirming that it learned of the incident early on Friday, December 22, and will be investigating the extent of the damage. 

The authorities in Denmark are warning ships that there are likely containers and debris floating in the North Sea. At the same time, the police are warning residents not to touch anything that comes ashore.

One of Maersk’s largest vessels, Mayview Maersk (18,270 TEU) departed Bremerhaven, Germany on Thursday, December 21, and encountered rough conditions from the storm called Pia that caused widespread flooding and damage in the North Sea region. It is the same storm that damaged the Hurtigruten cruise ship Maud.



Media in Denmark is saying that at least four containers have washed ashore with possibly 42 still in the North Sea. Pictures in the Danish media show refrigerators, medical items including needles, shoes, and other consumer goods on the beaches. The material appears to be scattered across nearly 10 miles of beaches. The containers appear to be 40-foot boxes.

Maersk confirms that at least 40 containers are believed to have been lost overboard from the 213,970 dwt vessel while it was in the North Sea. Built in 2014, the ship is 1,309 feet (399 meters) in length, making it one of the largest capacity vessels Maersk operates. The vessel which is owned by Maersk is registered in Denmark.

It is unclear how many boxes are aboard. Maersk said the vessel is due to reach Gdansk, Poland on December 24, and they will begin a full inspection in daylight. Unconfirmed reports are that there are additional damaged containers on the vessel.

Maersk told the local TV station in a statement that they had hired a company to locate the boxes that were lost overboard. They said no crew was injured during the incident and that the vessel is operating as normal at this time.

Top photo by Kees Torn of Mayview Maersk in 2017 -  CC BY-SA 2.0 license