I studied law so when we prepared for our first overseas move, I read the 50+ pages terms of agreement of the shipping company. One of the clauses was: "In case of emergency the captain has your permission to tip your container overboard if that will save the vessel from more serious problems". I had a little nervous giggle but was swiftly convinced by the moving agent that it hardly ever happens and -of course- signed the agreement including the clause.
That first move went without any problems. But 3 years later, when we moved from Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur the vessel with our container got involved in a collision with another ship, in the middle of the South-Chinese Sea. Our container was not so much almost tipped over board, the entire vessel almost sank. Luckily they were able to drag the 2 cling together vessels back to Japan and recovered the containers without too much damage.
We realised that all we possessed almost ended on the bottom of the sea. A feeling I clearly recalled when I saw this photo on internet.
This container was discovered by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute MBARI four months after it fell off the merchant vessel Med Taipei during a storm in February of 2004. MBARI was investigating what garbage/junk/pollution was to be found in the ocean.
Shocking to read and realise that this container is only one of the estimated 10,000 shipping containers that get lost on sea every year. To see what else to find in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and oceans visit: Life on the Ocean Floor.
Maybe (or better: obvioulsly!) the clause in that contract was there for a reason!