Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?
Anyone who has been up close & personal with shipping containers (I have) will tell you they are not lightly built - depending on the size and type, they can weight 5000 - 8000 lbs empty and over 65,000 lbs loaded. They seal pretty well (only some have vents) since they are designed to keep cargo dry. Though the corrugated walls may only be 1/8" plate (not exactly sheet metal...), the corners are built much heavier to permit stacking them 4 -6 high. Did I mention they have sharp corners? In the event that one of these containers is afloat, even waterlogged but not sunk, it can drift for many miles on the currents, so even far from shipping lanes they are a danger. As to longevity, they won't rust out for years - they are designed for salt water environment. IMO, next to tropical storms, shipping containers are probably one of the most dangerous things a blue water sailor can encounter.
Relative to a ship they are not very substantial. And I've been close to, around, on top of, and even inside, many, many shipping containers. The corrugated skin is usually made of 1.5 to 2.0 mm sheet metal. The frame is quite a bit more substantial, but even that is pretty mild steel. They may last for some time OUT of the water. But, immersed in sea water 24/7? I doubt they will last terribly long.
The original question (or the one I was answering, anyway) concerned whether or not there are piles of them under "the shipping lanes". The most likely answer is "no". Shipping lanes and their traffic are much more diffuse than most people suppose; it's a HUGE ocean; there aren't that many "walk about" containers relative to the size of the ocean floor; some of them do float for quite a while, but most sink fairly quickly (very few are air-tight), and thin mild steel on the ocean floor doesn't last forever (although the plastic crap the container was holding might well out-live all of us).
Never forget them. Do something to prevent it from happening again.
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Last edited by SlowButSteady; 07-27-2012 at 03:26 PM.