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This morning the US Coast Guard released an announcement that “70 stray cargo containers pose a threat to mariners off North Carolina.”
The Maersk Shanghai has lost approximately 70 to 73 cargo containers due to high winds and heavy seas on Saturday

The problem with 40 foot steel shipping containers is that some do not sink, but can float mostly submerged like an iceberg, for an extended period of time. 

Estimates from the World Shipping Council (WSC) about loss reported from shipping companies of containers,  says more than 100 million containers are transported across the globe annually, but  relatively few are lost over the side. 

 They talk about and define  "loss" as only being when talking about "over" 50 containers . . . (not one) ... such as the 2012 loss of almost 4,300 containers when the MOL Comfort broke apart in the Indian Ocean, or the 900 containers from the MV Rena in 2010, the 520 containers lost from the Svendborg Maersk  in 2014, the 391 containers lost on El Faro in 2015, or the 200 containers lost from the MV Chitra in 2010 ! 

So, how great a risk are floating shipping containers to us mariners? Realistically, the chance of hitting a container at sea are very small. 

That being said, containers tend to float just above the surface and can do major damage to sailboat or fishing vessel, on auto pilot or not, at night.