Mitsui O.S.K. Lines has responded to the interim report of a safety committee appointed in the wake of the sinking of the MOL Comfort this past summer.
Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism created the Committee on Large Container Ship Safety — comprising maritime industry representatives and experts — to consider the implications of the incident, which began when the 8,100-TEU container ship broke in half in heavy weather in the Indian Ocean on June 17.
The committee issued an interim report on Dec. 17, recommending temporary safety measures for existing vessels with capacities at or above 8,000 20-foot-equivalent units:
- A safety inspection of the bottom shell plates of each vessel to the extent possible to check for buckling deformations, with corrective action to follow should they be discovered.
- Verification of the actual weight of container cargoes provided by shippers to reduce uncertainty related to the still water bending moments of large container ships. An investigation of the 2007 wreck of the MSC Napoli by the U.K.’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch found that 30 percent of the containers on that vessel were overweight.
Responding to the committee’s report, MOL said it has done “everything possible” to ensure the safe operation of its ships.
The container carrier conducted emergency safety inspections targeting all six of the MOL Comfort’s sister vessels and then arranged docking for work to reinforce their hulls. With this step, MOL said, the ships were given about twice the hull strength of the standard set by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK), which conforms to International Association of Classification Societies standards. Moreover, MOL said it continues to pay special attention to the operation of these six vessels, looking to reduce the stress on their hulls by adjusting ballast water volume.
MOL said it has also conducted safety inspections on the outer bottom shell plates of the other large container ships it operates, and that it has confirmed there is “no safety problem.”
The carrier did not indicate whether it is verifying container weights. An International Maritime Organization subcommittee in September approved a compromise proposal for verifying the weight of containers before they are loaded on board ships, but the proposal has to move through the IMO’s legislative process before coming into force. Although backed by some, including the World Shipping Council, the proposal is opposed by European and Asian shipper groups.
The photo included in this article is courtesy of gCaptain, which documented the MOL Comfort story.