Abandoned Containers

Lately there has been a lot of reality TV shows that cover what happens to storage lockers, etc when they have been abandoned. After it processes, the locker is auctioned off to the highest bidder and then resold for profit. Some people make a great living just by buying items at auction. So is this what happens to an international shipping container once it has been abandoned? How is it handled? Is it auctioned off as well? It is handled very similarly depending on the shipping line.

In the shipping industry, there can be more considerations than would be for a storage facility. Any container that is not moving is losing money so container shipping lines do not want containers sitting in storage for very long. Once a container has been discharged from the vessel and free time has expired, there is a set amount of time before they can treat the container as abandoned. Sometimes it is a matter of the shipper having a dispute with the shipping line or freight forwarder and by the time it is settled, the demurrage is so high that is makes more sense to abandon than to pay the fees. Other times, the consignee for the container just never picks it up. Either way, the shipping line must get rid of the container so they can get it moving again. Abandoned containers can be a burden to the shipping line since it will cost them storage fees so they tend to get rid of the contents quickly. Just as with the storage lockers, the shipping line will auction off the cargo as soon as possible so they can get their container moving again.