Have you ever hit a shipping container? - Page 5 - SailNet Community
Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

"Hellosailor posits that"
No, he does not. In fact he never knowingly "posits" anything. He's merely stated that there are repeated estimates provided by other sources that give that number. That's not "posit"ing.

Now, johnny, let me also explain to you that your math is trash. You're comparing the surface area of shipping containers to that of the whole ocean. Totally invalid comparison, since the shipping containers we are concerend with are lost "in the shipping lanes" not randomly dispersed about the oceans. If you want to compare surface areas in order to estimate the chance of a collision, FIRST you need to examine the surface area of the shipping lanes where the containers are "launched". Then you need to extrapolate forward with current and drift, to determine the surface area of the places where they will go. Next you need to determine where recreational boaters go, because in some places they are basically IN those same shipping lanes, while in other places (like the North Sea) recreational vessels are damn rare.

If you do not adjust your "surface area" for dispersal and use patterns, but simply gob it all up, then the math is junk. Your answer will be off by many scales of magnitude.

What are my odds of digging up a corpse when I dig in the sand at the beach? Oh, well, we start with the size of a coffin, and ignore the fact that most of those are in designated graveyards, not just randomly scattered about?

Since Jimmy the Greek died, I haven't trusted the odds on anything.
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Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

Cool your jets hellosailor. I meant no offense with the numbers you sugggested. I actually use your numbers as vaild. And, I also pointed out that my "trash" math was a generalization and that the containers would likely be more concentrated in the shipping lanes.

You, sir, should learn some manners.

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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

Brent, would like to interview you for my article.

Could you please email me at johnjgeoghegan at yahoo dot com

Look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards, jg

By the way, 'Captain Aaron' says hello!
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Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

There are hundreds of millions of containers shipped every year. Ten thousand is a pretty small number in comparison.

Even if one limits the area to that of the theoretical "shipping lanes", one would have to search a huge area of the ocean floor to find many containers. You might also note that shipping containers are not particularly robust. Their "skin" is fairly thin sheet metal, and not particularly corrosion resistant at that. A ship, made of nice thick plate steel, may last many decades on the ocean floor, but I doubt a shipping container, made mainly of corrugated sheet metal, would have nearly such longevity.

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Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowButSteady View Post
There are hundreds of millions of containers shipped every year. Ten thousand is a pretty small number in comparison.

Even if one limits the area to that of the theoretical "shipping lanes", one would have to search a huge area of the ocean floor to find many containers. You might also note that shipping containers are not particularly robust. Their "skin" is fairly thin sheet metal, and not particularly corrosion resistant at that. A ship, made of nice thick plate steel, may last many decades on the ocean floor, but I doubt a shipping container, made mainly of corrugated sheet metal, would have nearly such longevity.
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.
Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
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).

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Last edited by SlowButSteady; 07-27-2012 at 02:26 PM.
Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyquest37 View Post
Hellosailor posits that 10,000 shipping containers go over the side each year. It appears that these containers eventually sink or wash ashore. Let's just say they stay afloat for an average of six months. This means we've got about 5,000 containers floating out there at any given time. A standard shipping container is aprx. 40' x 8' resulting in a maximum surfaced area of 320 square feet. Five thousand of these results in 1.6 million square feet of hazard. Total surface area of the world's oceans are 3.6x10 the 15th power square feet. Dividing container sf by ocean sf ocean sf results in 4.4x10 to the negative 8th power or 0.00000000044 percent chance of encoutering a container at any given time.

This is very generalized, of course. Containers are certainly more concentrated near the shipping lanes and ocean currents may tend to concentrate them even further.

Not trying to pooh-pooh the concern of hitting one, but given the odds, it does not surprise me that we don't hear many stories of folks running into shipping containers.
Could you run the math on this. What is the chances of two ships colliding if they steer their course without regard to any other ship on the sea? You will need to take the suface area of all ships on the ocean at any point in time as you did with shipping containers.

I think you will find the odds of ships colliding is about the same as the odds of hitting a container. Does this mean we should do away with a ships look out, navigation lights, AIS, and RADAR?
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Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

Interesting Video:

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Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

How would you like to hit one of these bad boys:

Losing Cargo in rough sea - YouTube

Notice the size of these tanks. They dwarf several containers lashed towards the stern of the ship. And they float.

Last edited by casey1999; 07-27-2012 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Have you ever hit a shipping container?

Quote:
Originally Posted by casey1999 View Post
Does this mean we should do away with a ships look out, navigation lights, AIS, and RADAR?
No.

Your analogy is interesting but there is difference between one moving object striking a floating hazard and the chances of two moving objects (ships) striking each other, especially if the moving objects are all converging on constricted areas, such as ports.

It's a really big ocean. I am not attempting to downplay the hazards associated with colliding with a shipping container. Am merely suggesting a possible reason why we almost never hear about these collisions. We read more stories about whales and sailboats colliding (hmmm, two moving objects) or pirates coming aboard than we do about colliding with containers.

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