The World Shipping Council has estimated that an average of 1,679 shipping containers are lost at sea per year

A six-year report into the shipping industry has shown that on average more than 1,679 containers are lost at sea each year.

World Shipping Council (WSC) calculated this figure, following a survey of more than 70% of the shipping industry from 2008 to 2013.

The report hoped to dispel the myth that as many as 10,000 shipping containers were lost each year. The highest figure recorded was in 2013, when 5,578 shipments were lost.

This unusually high figure was largely explained by the loss of MOL Comfort, which sank off the coast of Yemen last year with 4,293 containers on board, making for the worst containership loss in history.

Excluding catastrophic losses (more than 500 containers each) the annual average comes down to 546, but the WSC is keen to reduce this number further still by introducing new safety improvement initiatives.

In a statement accompanying the report, the WSC said: “Any loss of a container at sea is a loss that carriers seek to prevent.

“While the actual number of containers lost at sea is significantly less than many public statements cite, the industry’s goal continues to be to reduce those losses to as close to zero as possible.”

The shipping industry transports 120 million containers per year with an estimated value in excess of $4 trillion.