The shipping routes above the Wadden Islands are "very risky" for a large north-west storm for large, wide container ships, the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) reports Thursday. This is evident from studies into the container loss of the MSC Zoe.

In early 2018, the MSC Zoe lost 342 containers during a north-westerly storm over the Wadden Islands. International research shows that this is due to the storm and specific circumstances on the sailing route taken. The chance of repetition is highly estimated by the OVV.

The OVV has researched the shipping routes for a year and a half. According to the council, the "interplay of a number of phenomena" poses risks for the loss of containers on both the northern and southern international shipping routes above the Wadden Islands.

Large, wide ships encounter high transverse waves in a stormy northwest wind, which allows them to make extreme swings. There is also a chance that the ships will hit the seabed.

Containers can also become detached due to "waves hitting the ship and seawater spraying upwards against containers at high speed along the side of the ship". As a result of the "extreme forces" containers can become loose and overboard.

'Wadden region must be better protected'

According to the OVV, the Wadden region must be better protected against loss of container. "Given the value of the Wadden area, it is undesirable that these container ships choose the southern route along the Wadden coast during a north-westerly storm."

Due to the container loss of the MSC Zoe, complete containers, container pieces, various objects and waste ended up on the beaches of the Wadden Islands. Large-scale cleaning campaigns were held to get the beaches clean again.

287 of the 342 containers ended up in Dutch waters. (Photo: Netherlands Coast Guard)