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Maersk Says Automatic Engine Shutdown Led to Container Loss

Maersk explains container loss at sea off Japan
Maersk Eindhoven in Rotterdam in 2017 - Alf van Beem photo (Wikimedia Commons)

Published Feb 19, 2021 9:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

Maersk provided additional details related to the causes of the incident aboard its vessel the Maersk Eindhoven and the initial recovery plan. The 13,100 TEU vessel is seeking a port of refuge after having suffered a brief power failure that led up to the loss of containers overboard in the Pacific Ocean east of Japan.

In the initial reports of the incident, Maersk said that the vessel had lost power. After reviewing information from the ship, they are now reporting that the ship lost engine propulsion for three to four minutes while sailing 45 nautical miles off Northern Japan on February 17.  

“The initial analysis indicates engine oil pressure triggered a safety feature, causing the engines to shut down,” Maersk reports. “No malfunction or maintenance issues have been identified.”

The loss of maneuverability came while the vessel was sailing in heavy seas and resulted in severe rolling. The motion of the vessel caused 260 containers to be lost overboard and an additional 65 containers to be damaged but remain on deck. The vessel also sustained slight damage. 

Propulsion power was quickly restored on the vessel and it appears from the AIS data that she may have resumed course before deciding to return to Asia. The Maersk Eindhoven had departed Xiamen, China sailing to Los Angeles where she was due on March 1 on Maersk’s weekly TP6 Asia/US West coast service.

After the incident, Maersk reports that the vessel is operating normally and is now in calm seas returning to a North Asia port for inspection and repair. While the port of refuge has not been announced, the vessel’s AIS appears to be indicating that she is heading to Yokohama, Japan due to arrive on March 1. The actual destination may however be revised as the line works to secure dock space and make arrangements for the discharge of the damaged containers as well as any repairs that will be required.

Customers are being advised of the situation with the vessel and cargo status. Also, cargo claim consultant WK Webster reports that it has retained cargo surveyors and nautical expertise for inspections when the ship arrives in port. However, it is advising clients that it is unclear at this stage whether General Average will be declared by shipowners.