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As countries emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, economies everywhere are restocking their shelves, adding to inventories, and playing catchup. Nations are buying corn, liquid natural gas, tires, toilet paper, and copies of Vice President Kamala Harris’ book Superheroes Are Everywhere (perhaps out of fear of being slapped with sanctions). But supply chains are coming under pressure, creating a bottleneck throughout the world that has resulted in a shipping container crisis. Be it higher premiums or overfilled boats, present-day conditions have never been seen before, and the end result will be higher inflation – again.
A Drop in the Ocean
It is common for colossal vessels to drop cargo to the bottom of the ocean during their voyage to deliver goods. Accidents happen. However, as the industry abandons safety protocols to speed up its shipments and satisfy the receiving party, millions of dollars of cargo are falling into the sea and creating unique treasure for future generations to discover.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, more than 1,000 boxes have fallen overboard so far this year, disrupting international supply chains and impacting a broad array of companies, including Amazon, Tesla, and Walmart. Let’s put this into perspective: Roughly 3,000 containers dropped into the water during all of 2020.
But what is happening during these adventures? One of the most significant factors is that these vessels have gotten larger in recent years, prompting companies to stack their containers higher than ever before. It does not help that they are operating at total capacity. The human element is also a critical component in this story. The business news network reports that stevedores are incorrectly locking boxes on top of each other to save energy and time. But a single mishap can endanger both the crew and cargo.
“When you combine that with potentially poor maintenance of twistlocks and cabling required to secure these boxes, then it’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Jonathan Ranger, the head of marine Asia Pacific at American International Group Inc., at an industry event in Singapore.