Extreme behaviour in shallow water explains why large container shipS can lose containers above the Dutch Wadden Islands

AuthorsBastien Abeil
Conference/JournalMARIN Report 130
DateDec 7, 2020
Reading time9 minutes
The Dutch Safety Board asked MARIN and research institute Deltares to investigate how storm conditions such as those encountered above the Dutch Wadden Islands can lead to Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS) losing containers.

On the night of January 1-2, 2019, the ULCS MSC Zoe was sailing eastbound on the southerly route along the Dutch Wadden Islands when she got caught in a north-westerly storm. The ship eventually lost 342 containers during the storm. This led to large-scale pollution of the sea and of the Wadden Islands, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Scaling in MARIN'S Offshore Basin

Combining simulations and available bathymetric models, Deltares was able to determine the wind, current, water depth and wave conditions along the route. These environmental conditions were recreated at a scale of 1 to 63 in MARIN’s Offshore Basin. A special feature of our basin is the movable floor, which made it possible to adjust the water depths to match those encountered on the shipping routes along the Wadden Islands.

MARIN prepared a scale model of a ULCS similar to the MSC Zoe

Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS) in beam waves
Scale model sailing at 10 kn through 6.5 m high beam waves, water depth 21.3 m.
Follow-up research container loss Wadden ISLANDS