Investigation Report: Loss Of 137 Cargo Containers Overboard From CMA CGM Container Ship

At about 0127 on 20 January 2018, the then UK flagged1 container ship CMA CGM G. Washington unexpectedly rolled 20° to starboard, paused for several seconds, then rolled 20° to port.

The ship was experiencing very heavy seas in the North Pacific Ocean while on passage from Xiamen, China to Los Angeles, USA.

In daylight the following morning, the crew found that three container bays had collapsed, with 137 containers lost overboard and a further 85 damaged.

CMA CGM G. Washington_WebPic_Bay18 Container Bay Collapse
Image Credits: gov.uk

Safety issues

The reduced structural strength of the non-standard 53ft containers, inaccurate container weight declarations, mis-stowed containers, and loose lashings. The report concluded that:

  • bay 54 collapsed because the acceleration forces generated during the roll exceeded the structural strength of the non-standard 53ft containers stowed there
  • bay 58 failed because some of the containers were struck by the 53ft containers as they toppled overboard
  • bay 18 failed as a result of a combination of factors but was probably initiated by the failure of one or more of the containers stowed there

Recommendations

CMA ships are recommended (2020/103) to ensure that, where container terminals routinely weigh containers prior to loading, the cargo plan is updated to reflect these weights.

CMA CGM G. Washington_WebPic_Bay18 Container Bay Collapse
Image Credits: gov.uk

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is recommended (2020/104) to promote UK container owners’ involvement in Bureau Internationale des Containers databases.

Bureau Veritas is recommended (2020/105 and 2020/106 respectively) to amend its rules to require onboard lashing software to display maximum pitch and roll angles for the vessel’s condition, and, to review its rules and approval procedure.

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons learned and recommendations:

MAIB investigation report 2-2020: CMA CGM G. Washington

Annexes to MAIB investigation report 2-2020: CMA CGM G. Washington

Reference: gov.uk

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