“Ocean of Shoes” Cleaned Up as Mayview Maersk Prepares to Resume Sailing

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The initial recovery efforts after one of Maersk’s largest containerships lost more than 40 boxes in the North Sea have taken a week. One of the volunteers overseeing the cleanup efforts described the situation to the media as an “ocean of shoes,” but Danish officials have said Maersk provided a “robust” plan for the cleanup.

The company has not supplied additional details publicly after acknowledging the loss of more than 40 boxes from the Mayview Maersk (213,970 dwt with a capacity of 18,270 TEU) on the night of December 21-22 after the vessel departed Hamburg in a fierce North Sea storm known as Pia. The ship proceeded to Gdansk, Poland where she has been for a week, with local reports saying she is expected to depart on December 30.

Maersk did not comment about damaged boxes, but online postings from Gdansk talked about the vessel arriving with boxes dangling over the side. The webcam for Gdansk harbor appeared to capture pictures of the ship with damaged boxes protruding overboard.

Claims consultant WK Webster confirms in its casualty report that there were an unspecified number of damaged boxes in addition to a total of 46 that were believed to have gone overboard. 

“Loss and damage to containers appears to be limited to those containers stowed to Bay 74,” writes WK Webster. “We understand that normal discharge operations are expected to be completed by midday on December 28 whereafter it is the shipowners’ intention to discharge damaged containers from Bay 74.”


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The Danish maritime authorities continue to issue warnings about missing containers in the North Sea. The Danish media reports that planes and drones have been used to search the North Sea but that the location of possibly drifting containers or debris has not been identified.

Initial reports said that four of the containers washed ashore along miles of the North Jutland coast along the North Sea. By Thursday, the authorities were reporting that the debris had been collected from the beaches but more items may still wash ashore. At least 10,000 pairs of shoes were recovered along with refrigerators, televisions, and syringes. The containers were believed to be holding consumer goods with Denmark’s Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke stating they had received assurances that there was no hazardous material in the containers.

The minister said in addition to a robust plan, Maersk had hired a cleanup company and was on standby should additional debris be located in the North Sea or wash ashore. Maersk is paying for the cleanup and said it will be compensating the volunteers who helped to clean Denmark’s beaches.

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