On 17th June MOL (Mitsui O.S.K. Lines) Comfort cracked mid-ship and broke into two pieces while carrying 4832 containers from Singapore to Jeddah. The incident occurred 230 miles off the coast of Somalia in a swell of 5-8 m. The ship was built by MHI at Nagasaki and completed in July 2008. It operated as APL (America President Lines) Russia until 1st June 2012. As of 23rd June most of containers are still aboard, and tugs are on route to try to salvage the two sections and remaining cargo.
MOL Comfort is a large post-panamax container ship, one of 12 ships built of similar design, which were the first classified by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai to utilise high strength steel with yield point of 470 MPa in the hull structure.
As pointed out at gcaptain.com http://gcaptain.com/comfort-container-weight-issue/, the MOL Comfort was built at a top quality shipyard and operated by a tip-top liner company. The things that come to mind immediately are 1) Weather 2) Welding quality 3) Pirates?, gcaptain suggests tehre may also be an effect from the undeclared weight of containers. This is an interesting problem, since surely the total weight of the ship is easy to measure by measuring the displacement in dock? Also easy to weigh each container as the loading cranes can easily be fitted with equipment to weigh the loads (they need this anyway to ensure safety of the crane). It seems common practice to misreport container weights during loading, but are these weight then used to decide the position of the containers on board? Containers need to be placed, and moved, in such a way as to minimise the forces on the hull at all times.
Lloyd’s Register marine director and chairman of the International Association of Classification Societies Tom Boardley said:
This incident is of great concern and we want to know the cause of this structural failure.
MOL press releases regarding the MOL Comfort can currently be found here:
Ths ships builders MHI have set up a task force to work with MOL to investigate the source of the failure.
MHI press releases regarding the MOL Comfort can currently be found here:
As of 24 June the two halves are still floating and can be found drifting near 15”12N 66’53”E and 13’38”N 64’10”E. Original location was 12’30″N 60’E.
As of 25 June two MHI engineers are in place on one of the tugs sent to salvage the container ship, to investigate the cause(s). There are no statements from the crew, who may also be able to shed light on the incident.
The aft part of the ship eventually sunk with the containers at at 16:48 JST (11:48 Dubai time) on June 27. The fore part is being towed towards the Arabian Gulf.
Although the ships are built following international standards, the sister ships will subsequently be strengthened to at least twice the standard strength.