MOL Comfort (ex APL Russia) sank due to yet unclear reasons, sailing from Singapore to Jeddah and after that to North Europe, leaving behind hundreds of drifting containers and a huge aftershock hitting liner sector and all of the maritime industry.
Even the scale of the consequences is hard, impossible, to estimate, not to mention consequences themselves. This is the 1st case in liner sector, when modern ocean-going liner container vessel (built in Japan!) sank in the ocean after breaking in 2 parts, like a poorly built and managed bulk carrier or over aged coaster. Nothing like this ever occurred, and no one believed it was possible, even theoretically. It just could not happen, but still, here it is.
At present stage, even the weirdest theories of the real cause of this accident can not be ignored, something like explosion or several explosions, or whatever else one may fantasize.
Putting aside some exotic versions, most likely causes that come into mind are some basic design and building faults; serious disbalance of the loaded containers weight due to false cargo weight declarations and faulty cargo plan; faulty ballasting of the container ship. Most probably, if that’s the case, the sinking was caused not by just one of the above-mentioned factors, but by their combination, and triggered by rough weather.
If it is going to be found, that there were a few factors involved, then, the questions arise which require sound and unequivocal answers.
- Are there some basic faults rooted deep inside ocean-going container vessels design, building and management, or was the disaster the result of a combination of negative factors.
- If it’s a combination of negative factors, what is the presumption of such a combination, is it negligibly small, or the odds of another incident are alarmingly high.
- What is the cost of lowering those odds, and how is it going to affect liner business and freight.
The questions of insurance and cargo loss coverage for shippers, especially minor ones, is also important, too.
We do not also have to forget another risk quite a number of experts are already worried over – the risk of major fire on a giant ocean-going container vessel.
One thing is clear, though. The liner sector, 1st of all majors, are going to do whatever it takes to hide unfavorable factors and especially, basic faults, if there are any. The awesome container transportation mechanism they created may not stand serious modifications, called by safety needs.
Related news: UPDATE on the MOL Comfort Accident from June 24, 2013.