Battered ONE Apus moors at Kobe

The battered ONE Apus moored at the port of Kobe today. The full scale of the box spill that occurred eight days ago came into view properly for the first time.

Ocean Network Express (ONE) estimates that 1,816 boxes fell into the ocean during a storm as the Japanese-flagged ship crossed the Pacific to California last week. Of the 1,816 units lost, 64 contained dangerous goods, including fireworks, batteries and liquid ethanol.

As well as the lost boxes, there are thousands that have fallen on deck as these social media images taken today clearly show. Cargo claims are expected to top $50m from the accident, the worst container loss since 2013.

“Once the ONE Apus is in port and deemed safe, a full investigation will be conducted into this incident in conjunction with the Flag State and the relevant maritime authorities,” ONE stated today.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Now l wonder how they’re going to stop these photos reaching the mainstream media. The advocate of a confidentiality clause is looking even more ridiculous..i see there was some damage up forward too, not visible in the first photos taken by that errant crew member violating his “confidentiality clause”. But nowhere near the scale of that sustained over the parallel middle body. Unless they got tired and just fell over, it is obvious to a blind man that the damage was inflicted by mountainous beam seas over a prolonged period. The crew must have been extremely frightened watching those boxes lay over and fall over the side as she rolled almost to her beam ends. But l still want to know why he could not get his ship around and heave to. She would have a very powerful engine, and even a couple of thrusters to add marginal thrust. It is a mystery.

  2. As carrier, Ocean Network Express crushed lowest containers by means of an excessive stacking height.

  3. An owner’s report advises that the ship was proceeding from Kobe to Long Beach in NW’ly winds Force 4 and swell of 5-6 m. May have been more severe as a weather map for that time indicates swell heights to 16 m. Was the swell system on the ship’s port beam as she headed towards Long Beach? if so, then she may have fallen victim to synchronous rolling which has the effect of amplifying the ship’s natural roll period and angle of heel to a dangerous degree and even to capsize. Indeed, if the container lashings had not given way, the One Apus may have been lost. Alternatively, and dependent on the ship’s course, the prevailing NW’ly wind and swell may have been coming up from the ship’s port quarter area such that she was effectively surfing in following seas. If so, then for a containership of the One Apus’ design (Post Panamax vessel design with large bow and stern flares and flat transom), she would have been highly susceptible to parametric rolling which has been established as the cause of a number of containership container loss incidents. What should a master do to avoid such incidents? First up is to improve your knowledge of the serious dangers of synchronous and parametric rolling and plan the emergency action to be taken if the conditions are detected for either of these deadly phenomena to take place. All containership masters and bridge officers should therefore familiarise themselves with the IMO’s Revised Guidance to Masters for Avoiding Dangerous Situations in Adverse Weather and Sea Conditions, MSC.1/Circ.1228 and plan accordingly. Capt Smith’s suggestion to slow your vessel and heave to in fact accords with the IMO Guidance. It’s also good basic seamanship and a great way to stay alive.

    1. Your way of reasoning is based on a japanese Captain free to delay the ship because he has a good contract and a good status at the company. But Captain Collin Smith is right, probably the Captain is hired abroad, from a third party crew manager. His salary is probably not enough to rise a family, etc. So try now to make again the same reasoning.

    2. Agree with much of your comments. I would add, that nobody else has mentioned, is that we see the “final result” of the disaster as she arrives into port several days after the initial event. What we DO NOT KNOW (yet) is how much of this damage we see today was from the initial collapse? Perhaps there were just a few bays that had a collapse and the Master then decided to turn his vessel and head back to Japan (whether his own idea or even the owners at home).
      I suspect then additional damage happened from the severe rolling that had to have occurred during a turn through the trough of monstrous seas and swell. That might explain the tremendous amount of collapse and damage throughout the entire length of the ship.
      Turning a ship about in the midst of a storm and spending even a precious few minutes stuck in the trough and also fearing the engine loss due to overspeed if the prop gets out of the water, is almost more frightening than the initial accident.
      I’ve been there and done that while crossing the Pacific on a ship carrying a cargo entirely of explosives for the US military. We were being weather routed by the US Navy and were hove to almost 24 hours north of Midway in winter. Turning ‘before’ a storm’s onset is prudent, but a challenging decision for any master on any ship. Turning a ship around in the midst of heavy weather is easy to say, but frightening to actually do … safely and without further damage.

      1. At what point in the voyage the damage was done is likely immaterial. I would suspect however that the bulk of the damage was inflicted while he was still trying to make way to his destination on a Great Circle course. I base this on my own experience. If turning would have resulted in even greater damage he probably would have kept going. If the worst waves are indeed coming from the port quarter, as Captain Gordon suggests, then perhaps he would have been safer putting the heavy seas right astern to reduce the rolling, and getting as much speed as possible out of the engines to stay in a trough, and reduce the violence of the impact of the waves. I have done this whenever no other solution offered itself. It’s all a matter of the conditions of the day, so really we’re all just guessing. But it’s a knotty problem.

  4. The Japanese flag and register is something of a red herring these days. Developed-world flags now allow foreign national crews top to bottom. Evergreen ran a fleet of large container ships registered under the UK flag,, with nary a Brit on board. If the shipowner wants the Red Duster without hassles there are also a number of subsidiary U.K. flags of convenience they can register under. I’ve sailed under them. Of course there are the second registers, set up for them too, and once under an f.o.c.there’s alway double -registry…..two flags on the stern. All this takes seafarers away from any hope of justice and relief, as was partly the motive. I recall one day when l was Master a package arrived on board. It was the complete kit, flag, certificates, stencil. etc for changing the flag of registry to Panama. No notice, no word from head office, no survey, just haul down one flag and raise another. And sail the same day. How cynical is that? Now tell me the flag of registry isn’t becoming irrelevant. France has a second register on the Kerguelen Islands in the South Atlantic. No humans. Just penguins. How farcical is that? The truth is that developed- world registers now pander to shipowners, not crews, for the tonnage money. The balance of ONE vessels are under f.o.c.s. How long before this ship joins them? If the flag is becoming a farce, why not just crash them all together under one IMO flag?. It could hardly make things worse, comical as they presently are.

  5. Given the current fashion for jailing Masters of ships who get into difficulties , l wonder if the job is as desirable as it used to be. One has to feel for Greek Captain Mangouris, the Master of the oil tanker “Prestige” which leaked oil all over the Spanish and French coasts. The court case against him went on for 11 years. He asked for a port of refuge as the side-plating of his rusty Liberian-flagged, ABS-classed tanker fell off into the sea. 77,000 tons of oil on board began leaking from her, but coastal governments denied her port of refuge. I doubt he sailed as Captain again, since by then he was in his late 70s. Who paid him during those 11 years? Was he free from head office oversight and interference? Could he have refused to sail the wreck? Theoretically he could, but in all likelihood his replacement would have been in the air within hours.That is the reality if modern seafaring.

  6. Agree with a lot points mentioned in your comments. What kind of flags are an argument for
    high safety at sea for ship, cargo and crew? Not even the German Flag could say something about this any more.
    One reason I guess, only Crew Managements on the market now. No own experienced crews and Head of crews available anymore.
    Low budget world wide in the global transport logistics at sea, ashore and shortly in the air.
    Who is responsible for such damages? The Captain? Please explain: who was it on the Bridge and the whole bridge team?
    head in the sea, speed down and slowly riding up and down. OK, he will lost the schedule. But no damages occurred
    For my opinion please come back and take experienced People back in the responsible positions on ships, on all ships.
    Not the Low Budget crews.
    Klaus Mewes

  7. Full marks Klaus. You may be interested to know that l was an unwitting step in the Dutch auction for seafarers. In 1972 l relieved a Second officer on an lsraeli-owned, Liberian-flagged bulk carrier in Marseille. The officer l relieved was German, in fact up to that point all the officers were German. Knowing nothing about it l accepted $1200 a month wages. He told me he was being paid $1600 a month. 9 months later l was relieved by a Turkish officer who would be paid $850 a month. So in a year the shipowner, who was by no means one of the worst, had halved his crew costs. Apply that to the whole ship and he could pocket a very large chunk of change. And that is of course an owner who continued to pay his crew. In fact in my research l found that non-payment of wages is the most common abuse of seafarers. Good taste prevents me from identifying what nation these owners belonged to. An experienced seaman working on f.o.c. ships will be only too aware. Later….l nearly joined a ship management company in Monte Carlo who wanted me to find out why certain ships could operate with smaller crews, with a view to cutting the wage bills on it’s own ships. I pointed out that these ships were highly automated specialist ships like chemical tankers, and were designed for a smaller crew. Needless to say l didn’t go to work with them. You’d be surprised who they were.

    1. Captain Smith,
      in Monaco you will find V-Ships, crew managing for all kind of ships including pax ships!
      I have to be carefully here if I say anything about it. It was my own experience to sail under such management.
      Also needless to say: it was a very short time!

  8. My apologies. A mistype. It should have been “swells of 5-6meters”, with the 16 metres forecast.

  9. Colin, mthks for such good exchange in our global business. missing in general the good old seamanship learning from the past generation. Now it is time to go, I am 65 shortly and my 25 years as Master without any damages more or less OK for me except the Monaco things.
    My last Container vessel was an 8.700 TEU unit, means today: a smaller one. Anyway I am happy to be X-MASS at home with my Wife, but until now without CORONA. Wish you all the same save staying at home and a merry X-Mass and a happy New Year 2021. I guess we will talk next year again about such disasters at sea. Welcome.
    Klaus Mewes

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