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Friday, June 21, 2013

MOL Comfort breaks in to two... and aft and fore parts are floating !!

There are times when you feel [in hindsight] that it is a misnomer ! ~ this Comfort now offers no comfort to its Owner and users.. !!

A SHIP looks massive and majestic ~ it is a symbol of strength – they are built strong to weather the vagaries of seasons and the action of waves.  It has many components – some of which are Keel frame, deck plating, bulkhead, keelson, longitudinal stiffener and more….  South Korea is the world's largest shipbuilding country with  and very high global market share…. Its emergence has seen Japan losing some way. China is an emerging shipbuilder that briefly overtook South Korea during the 2008-2010 global financial crisis

Despite all the clamour for strength, brittle fracture in ships has been a concern since the spectacular structural failures of the Liberty ships and T-2 tankers during and subsequent to World War II.  There can be various reasons right from the quality of material used to structural deficiencies that cause brittle fracture resulting in vessels going down.  Now comes another instance of crack in hull.

The vessel involved is MOL Comfort, a 2008 built, 86,692GT Fully Cellular Containership, on a voyage from Singapore, Hong Kong, Japanese Ports and Vietnam, bound for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and European Ports including Hamburg, Southampton and Le Havre. It is reported that the  vessel suffered a crack in its hull amidships during heavy seas, whilst heading westbound in the Arabian Sea   on 17th June 2013. It is understood that the 26 crew have transferred to a support vessel. The vessel was initially said to be taking on water, however later reports confirmed that the vessel with 7,041 TEUs on board had broken in two, with pollution and debris reported in the area.

Built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and classed by ClassNK a mere 5 years ago, the MOL Comfort is a new ship; ships should not break and certainly not new ones…. Sure it was checked and approved by Classification society too… ensuring the safe design and construction of merchant vessels and prevention of incidents like these is the founding mission of the Societies.

While some reports stated that the vessel has sunk, it presently appears that the two halves were still afloat. The cause behind the incident was yet to be ascertained. It was also not known what the ship was transporting.  Indian Coast Guard coordinated the rescue operation and all the 26 members of the crew--- 12 Russians and 14 Filipinos-- were rescued.  Indian officials said that the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Mumbai diverted three ships - MV Hanjin Bejing, MV Zim India and MV Yantian Express, which were travelling nearby, for the rescue operation.

With an overall length of 316 metres (1,037 ft) long, moulded beam of 45.6 metres (150 ft) and fully-laden draught of 14.5 metres (48 ft), MOL Comfort is too large to transit the Panama canal and is thus referred to as a post-Panamax container ship. She measures 86,692 in gross tonnage and 48,825 in net tonnage, and has a deadweight tonnage of 90,613 tonnes. The container capacity of the ship, measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), is 8,110 of which 4,616 TEU is stored on the deck and 3,494 TEU in the holds. Like most large container ships, MOL Comfort is propelled by a single low-speed two-stroke crosshead diesel engine coupled to a fixed-pitch propeller. Together with her sister ships, MOL Comfort was the first container ship classified by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai to utilize ultra high-strength steel with an yield strength of 470 MPa in her hull structure.

Some reports indicate that the two sections of the vessel  remain afloat in stable conditions albeit under adverse weather and said to be drifting at approximately 2 knots in an east-northeast direction. The fore part was reported at 13-00N 60-40E, whilst the aft part at 12-57N 61-10E. Owners have arranged a patrol boat out of Jebel Ali, UAE to monitor the vessel and in preparation of towage. The patrol boat is expected on the scene on 23rd June. In the meantime Owners are arranging salvage operations, said to be with Nippon Salvage and Smit Salvage.

Tokyo-Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.  reported the status on  June 19, 2013 that the vessel could not continue sailing under its own power from June 17 because the hull fractured in 2 parts while under way on the Indian Ocean.  20th June update stated that the fore and aft parts were drifting and some containers might have been lost or damaged during the incident.  Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd, the company owner of the MOL Comfort container ship, which broke on 2 parts updated the status of MOL Comfort as of 23:00 JST (18:00 Dubai time) on 20th of June, 2013. The container ship still couldn't continue floating under its own power from 17th of June, 2013 because the hull split off 2 parts while under way on the Indian Ocean.  The patrol vessel that has departed Port of Jebel Ali, U.A.E. is being expected to arrive at the ocean site on around 24th of June.

MOL (Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.)  is a Japanese transport company headquartered in Toranomon,Minato, Tokyo, Japan. The company's main area of operations is international shipping. Its alligator logo can be seen on containers in ports around the world. They have a strong presence in Asia.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
21st June 2013.

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