Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) responded to the interim report of the Committee on Large Container Ship Safety related to the incident on June 17, 2013, involving the MOL-operated MOL Comfort, which hull broke in half. The committee was established by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) made up of maritime industry representatives and experts. The report was issued on December 17.
While the cause of the incident remains undetermined, the committee recommended that the following actions be taken as temporary safety measures for existing containerships with loading capacities similar to or greater than 8,000 TEU class:
- A safety inspection on the bottom shell plates to the extent possible should be conducted in order to verify the presence of buckling deformations. If such deformations are found during this inspection, consult a classification society regarding the proper measures to be taken.
- In accordance with the deliberations at the IMO related to the enforcement of container weight verification prior to loading, verification of the actual weight of container cargoes provided by the shipper is recommended in order to reduce uncertainty related to the still water bending moments of large containerships.
MOL said it has done everything possible to ensure safe operation. Since the incident occurred, MOL has taken the following measures, including safety measures, which were recommended in the interim report mentioned above.
- MOL conducted emergency safety inspections targeting all six of the MOL Comfort’s sister vessels, and then arranged docking for work to reinforce their hull structures as additional safety measures. With this step, the target vessels secured about twice the hull strength of the standard set by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) which conforms to International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) standards.
- MOL continues to pay special attention to the operation of this type of six sister vessels to reduce the stress on hulls by adjusting ballast water volume.
- MOL also conducted safety inspections on the outer bottom shell plates of its operated large containerships in addition to the above six vessels, and already confirmed there is no safety problem.