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November 22, 2019

When Shipping Containers Go Missing

It might be the worst case scenario for anyone involved in shipping a container, but it’s more common than you might think.

Around 5,000 to 10,000 shipping containers are lost at sea every
year. The lost containers usually sink to the ocean floor, although it can take a standard 20-foot steel shipping container up to two months to reach the bottom! The results are usually limited to inconvenience for the supply chain as well as confusion among marine life. But sometimes, a lost
shipping container can have downright whimsical consequences.

In 2006, North Carolina residents were surprised to find thousands of bags of Doritos chips washing up on their beaches. Their container had split apart while being transported over the Atlantic Ocean, releasing these snacks into the wild.

Perhaps the most famous and fun incident — even discussed by wildlife and conservation icon David Attenborough — involved a shipping container filled with children’s bath toys dubbed “Friendly Floatees”. Back in 1992, a container holding an impressive 29,000 plastic yellow ducks, green frogs, blue turtles and red beavers dropped its cargo into the Pacific Ocean. These friendly critters started to wash up on beaches all around the world, even reaching Europe by 2007.

UK craft brewery Neon Raptor Brewing Co. found the concept of shipping containers lost at sea so inspiring, they’ve even released a beer called “20,000 Containers under the Sea”.

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