Improper stacking sent containers overboard, agency says

HONOLULU — The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded that 21 containers fell into the Pacific Ocean last year because they had been improperly stacked on a barge operated by Young Brothers in Hawai‘i.

The report issued on April 6 said the probable cause for the incident was the company’s failure to provide workers with a plan when the barge was being loaded in Honolulu.

The board determined that four stacks of 40-foot shipping containers were loaded improperly, with the heaviest on top and the lightest on bottom. They should have been loaded with the lightest on top.

Eight containers were recovered and 13 others were never found. The incident caused an estimated $1.5 million cargo loss and over $130,000 in damage to the barge and containers, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Young Brothers’ terminal operations director, Chris Martin, said the company has added safety measures since the incident but is still considering other measures.

“We have implemented enhanced safety measures since our first loss of containers overboard in more than 20 years,” Martin said. “We are carefully reviewing the report and considering the appropriate next steps.”

One change, the company said, was to increase lashing arrangements that secure containers in place while they are in transit.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele said Young Brothers should boost safety measures.

“The NTSB report clearly stated that the lack of an initial barge load plan and the failure to provide and implement adequate procedures for the monitoring of the cargo load was the probable cause of the container collapse,” Kahele said.

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