MOL Comfort’s Stern Sinks

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has just reported that the aft section of the MOL Comfort has sunk near 14’26”N 66’26”E at 16:48 JST (11:48 Dubai time) on June 27. With a water depth of 4,000 meters, no further salvage of the ship will be possible due to the extreme ocean depth. About 1,700 containers and 1,500 metric tons of fuel oil sank with this section of the vessel. Some containers are confirmed floating near the site. gCaptain has been told that the stern began sinking at 1000 hrs (local time) when hatch 7 was breached. The vessel made a quick list and trim forward and to her starboard. Bright pink/ yellow and black clouds were observed coming from hold number 7 and, as a precaution, both vessels – including MV Karar- moved upwind away from the vessel. For more striking photos visit http://gcaptain.com/comfort-images/. Source and Photo Credits: gCaptain.com

Cold COMFORT – Industry expert suggests ‘Container Weight’ is an issue

w20130617_581636_51bf7444348dFollowing up on the unvelievable events which saw the MOL COMFORT split in two, see previous post “Container Ship Breaks in Half and Sinks“,  Michael Grey (former Editor of Lloyd’s List and Fairplay, currently the London Correspondent of BIMCO and holder of a British FG Master’s Certificate) writes “How on earth does a 5 year old 90,000 ton containership, built by one of Japan’s finest shipyards and operated by a tip-top liner company, come to be floating in two bits 19 miles apart? Was it the Weather, Welding,  or perhaps one of those 100 year waves the Met. Offices are warning us about are rather more frequent?”

He goes on to maintain that the smart money must surely be on the stresses induced by under-declared container weights, which shippers routinely refuse to take with any seriousness whatsoever.

Always supposing that there is a good run through the IMO, it has been suggested that it could be another three or four years before SOLAS Regulation VI/2, which provides for the “verification” of container weights, comes into effect. As the distinguished delegates undertake their deliberations on this matter, a huge picture of the after part of the MOL Comfort sitting forlornly in the Arabian Gulf might usefully be displayed on the Council Chamber screens to help focus their minds.

It is now more than six years since the emergency in the English Channel when the MSC Napoli nearly sank through an ingress of water.

It is worth underlining the views of the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch, which painstakingly required all the boxes retrieved from the wreck to be weighed, and note its suggestion that overweight boxes contributed to the loss of that ship.

Wheels often grind slowly in marine safety mills, but there have surely been enough warnings about excessive container weights to wake everyone up. Feeders have been regularly rolling over, fortunately in shallow water or against the quay. This clearly expensive incident which has put 25 lives and more than 4000 containers at risk ought to clarify the issues.

But we shouldn’t bet on it.

Shippers’ organisations, which have been defending their flawed position on container weights for forty years or more will still be arguing about the responsibilities for verification until the bitter end. If the salvors manage to save this ship, let us hope that every one of those boxes retrieved is weighed, and compared with the manifested declaration.

Sources: article posted in gCaptain.com with original credit to the Clay Maitland blog