Containers carry a vast array of different goods, from consumer good such as shoes and electronic devices, to chemicals and other raw materials. The largest container ships can carry more than 20,000 containers.
UNCTAD estimates that 752.2 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) were moved at container ports worldwide in 2017. Containerized trade accounted for 17.1% of total seaborne trade in 2017.
IMO has developed and adopted a number of requirements to ensure the safe carriage of containers and has also developed specific guidance for packing and securing of containers.
IMO's International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) includes, in its chapter VI on carriage of cargoes, requirements for stowage and securing of cargo or cargo units (such as containers).
The International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC) provides test procedures and related strength requirements for containers.
The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code is a mandatory international code for the maritime transport of dangerous goods in packaged form, in order to enhance and harmonize the safe carriage of dangerous goods and to prevent pollution to the environment. The Code sets out in detail the requirements applicable to each individual substance, material or article, covering matters such as packing, container traffic and stowage, with particular reference to the segregation of incompatible substances.