C1/2010M M/S LINDA (FIN), falling overboard of four containers into the Baltic Sea, south of Gotland, on 6 February 2010
Four containers fell into sea from the Finnish flagged M/S LINDA on Saturday morning 6 February 2010. The incident occurred in the Baltic Sea, south of Gotland, while the vessel was on her way from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to St. Petersburg, Russia.
The LINDA operates in regular traffic between European ports. In addition to the customary cargo, a 40 foot container equipped with a refrigeration unit, so-called reefer container, was loaded on her deck, in the first tier, in Poland, in the port of Gdansk. The reefer container had been taken out of use. The container had been decided to be taken to Helsinki, where it was to be sold so it could be used as something else than a transport unit. Nothing was loaded on the container in the following port, Teesport. In Rotterdam, the port after Teesport, three containers were loaded on the reefer in the second, third and fourth tiers. These containers weighed 25, 23 and 26 tons respectively, making a total of 74 tons.
When the LINDA was sailing from Rotterdam for St. Petersburg, a motorman noticed on Saturday, 6 February 2010 at 8.20 that a stack of containers from the port side of the vessel had fallen into the sea and that remains of a reefer container were hanging on the vessel's side. The motorman informed the Officer of the Watch, who was on the navigating bridge, of his observation. The Officer of the Watch had not noticed the falling of the containers as it was dark. The exact time of the fall, 07.56 vessel’s time, was obtained later from the registration of the vessel's CCTV camera, which was located in the superstructure. According to the LINDA’s log, the vessel position at 08.00 was lat 57°00.6N and long 017°34.2E.
Swedish authorities decided not to lift the containers as their understanding was that the possible environmental damages would be small and restrict to a limited area. Baltic herring is fished in the area, and its stock may decrease temporarily when the dangerous substances at some point dissolve in seawater.
It was found out in the investigation that it was not possible to identify the container, which had been taken out of use and was deteriorated, as there was no marking on it indicating that loading on it was not permitted. The identification of such a container rested only on the identification taking place on the basis of the number of the cargo unit. In Rotterdam three containers were loaded on the deteriorated container even though there was in the instructions information about the fact that nothing could be loaded on the reefer container in question. Information did thus not pass between the different actors. Divergences in the cargo information system do not pass automatically from one system to another, and some information must be conveyed directly between the various parties involved.
In the opinion of the Safety Investigation Authority of Finland, transporting a deteriorated container as cargo on a vessel requires that it is marked clearly enough as taken out of use. In addition to the sides and ends of the container, the markings should also be visible on the top of the container in which case it would be possible for the crane operator, too, to identify the faulty unit. The shipping company, the operator and the vessel have different cargo information systems in use, and the information transfer between them is not flawless. The actors must make sure by other means that information on diverging cargoes or cargoes requiring special attention is passed to all parties.