Ship battered by Gulf of Alaska storm loses containers overboard

A cargo ship lost 29 containers overboard during hurricane-like conditions in the Gulf of Alaska.

The 981-foot containership Cosco Yokohama encountered high winds and rough seas Jan. 21-22 while on its eastbound transit from Asia, said Claudia Kühl, a spokeswoman for the ship’s owner, E.R. Schiffahrt GmbH & Cie. of Hamburg, Germany. Aside from the 29 boxes that plunged into the sea, many other containers were damaged as they shifted in the storm.

The exact weather conditions that Cosco Yokohama encountered could not be confirmed. Forecasts for the Gulf of Alaska had called for winds up to 80 mph and waves reaching over 30 feet. The area is known for its extreme sea conditions resulting from the confluence of swells from different directions that can combine to create swells three times greater than a single swell.

When the Liberian-flagged vessel arrived in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, on Jan. 24, the damaged containers were removed. Cargo which had emerged from the storm unscathed was unloaded and shipped by rail to its ultimate destination.

“They were bound for Prince Rupert and had cargo to be offloaded here,” said Michael Gurney, a spokesman for the Prince Rupert Port Authority. “The cargo that was bound here was unloaded and moved on its way. They removed the containers that had shifted on board.”

Officials did not disclose details of the containerized cargoes that were lost.

“There were no dangerous goods or hazardous goods that went overboard,” Gurney said. “The damaged containers were moved ashore and moved to the Fairview terminal for processing by the shippers.”

No one was injured on board the ship despite the ferocity of the storm, officials said. There were no immediate reports of damage to Cosco Yokohama.

Gurney said the port was pleased that it had the resources and capacity in Prince Rupert to handle the salvage operation.

In an e-mail message to Professional Mariner, David Bedwell, executive vice president of Cosco Canada, said he was not at liberty to provide any further information about the lost and damaged cargo. Kühl said she didn’t know the contents or fate of the damaged containers.

By Professional Mariner Staff