OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Divers and salvage crews probed the 50-foot depth of the Port of Oakland Friday for 10 massive empty cargo containers that tumbled off a freighter into the water.

Port of Oakland Communications Director Mike Zampa said 11 empty containers fell off the ship berth in the outer harbor on Thursday afternoon. Ten of those containers sunk into the waters.

“The good news is there were no injuries,” he said. “There were no spills, leaks or pollution. The containers are stretched in an area along the dock.”

Divers with Parker Diving out of Sausalito have been contracted by the Port of Oakland to help with the recovery effort.

After a couple hours of searching, three of the containers were spotted near the bow and the dock. Once they are all found and marked with a bouy, a crane will start pulling them out.

“Fortunately these were empty containers, so the weight is not as great as they could have been,” said Zampa.

Zampa said the containers are 20 to 40 feet long and some weigh as much as 5,000 pounds, even when they are empty.

The company, Mol Maxim was taking the empty ones back to Asia where they were to be filled.

“If you don’t have empty containers in Asia, you can’t send goods to this country,” said Zampa. “That’s how you get your tennis shoes and computers you use.”

2.5 million containers come through the Port of Oakland every year. Zampa said that in the 11 years he has been with the Port, this is only the second time containers have gone overboard.

The last incident happened within the past three years and only involved one or two containers being dumped in the water.

Zampa said the containers are not contaminating the water and that the recovery effort was not impacting port traffic.

Port officials said their goal is to get the containers out of the water by late Friday night.


Zampa said the cause of the incident was still under investigation.