Mitsui O.S.K. Lines said the aft part of its fractured MOL Comfort container ship sank today in the open sea in the Indian Ocean, near 14’26”N 66’26”E, with water depth about 4,000 meters (about 13,123 feet).
About 1,700 containers aboard the aft part sank with this section of the vessel, although some are confirmed to be floating near the site.
Approximately 1,500 metric tons of fuel oil was estimated to be aboard in the tanks of the aft part, but no large oil leak has been confirmed. In a separate statement issued earlier, MOL noted there was an oil film around the aft part of the ship before it sank.
MOL had also earlier confirmed that the aft part of the MOL Comfort was “rolling heavily” in ongoing adverse weather on June 26 and could not be towed because of the weather conditions.
Meanwhile, the fore part of the MOL Comfort is being towed “stably” to the Persian Gulf. It was located near 15’52”N 68’53”E on June 26 with the majority of cargo aboard. MOL confirmed that there was no oil around the fore part. Rescue boats started arriving to salvage the fore part on June 24.
The 7,041 20-foot-equivalent unit, Bahamas-flag MOL Comfort snapped in half on June 17 during inclement weather in the Indian Ocean, about 200 nautical miles from Yemen. It was en route from Singapore to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Following the MOL Comfort incident, MOL has decided to withdraw the ship’s six sister vessels — MOL Creation, MOL Charisma, MOL Celebration, MOL Courage, MOL Competence and MOL Commitment — from service as a preventative measure and to upgrade their hulls.
The carrier said that although they have sufficiently fulfilled the safety standard required by classification society Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, in compliance with the International Association of Classification Societies, MOL plans to upgrade the hull structures to be twice as strong as the required safety standard.
MOL, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and ClassNK are continuing to investigate the cause of the MOL Comfort incident, although MOL said the investigation “may take some time.”