Flip flops lost from container ship off Outer Banks washing up from Europe to the Bahamas

Flip-flops, water shoes, running shoes and other footwear have been found as far away as Ireland. [Liam MacNamara photo]

Remember that freighter traveling from Norfolk to Charleston that lost 76 containers off the Outer Banks in a 2018 nor’easter, including several carrying sulfuric acid?

Turns out some of those lost containers had items possibly destined for local stores and a nearby indoor waterpark. And they’ve been washing up on the other side of the Atlantic.

On March 4, 2018, the Maersk Shanghai alerted the Coast Guard they lost the containers about 17 miles off Oregon Inlet in 40-foot seas and hurricane force winds.

The containers of sulfuric acid were never found, likely sinking to the bottom. And officials said the acid would instantly be neutralized by sea water.

Fast forward a year later, when Liam MacNamara found a flip flop on beach in County Clare, Ireland. Then he found dozens of flip flops, water shoes and running shoes.

Some of the flip flops and water shoes had Outer Banks printed on them. But many of them carried the logo of Great Wolf Lodge, a chain of indoor water parks with locations across the country including Williamsburg.

MacNamara, who said he has visited the Outer Banks, told The Post and Courier in Charleston that he’s found all kinds of shoes and he’s not the only one.

“The bulk of which carry the Nike brand,” MacNamara said. “Through a network of other beachcombers in other countries we discovered that these runners and flip flops were turning up all over the place — not only up and down the west coast of Ireland but also in England, France, Spain, Portugal and even The Azores.”

The Post and Courier also reported North Carolina beachcomber Heather Cremia found a lone flip flop with one of the lost-container designs on a beach in Eleuthera, Bahamas earlier this month.

How the footwear made from one side of the Atlantic to the other and back again is really no shock: The Gulf Stream and other powerful currents that make up the North Atlantic Gyre, which moves water from one side of the pond to the other in a clockwise fashion.

About Sam Walker 1512 Articles
Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.