Steve's Marine Disaster Pages


In June 2013, the MOL COMFORT, a 8,100 TEU capacity, state-of-the-art, 5 year old large containership, owned and operated by the Japanese company MOL, suffered serious structural problems in the middle of the Indian Ocean, as it was sailing between Singapore and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, en route for northern Europe. The back broke, or to be more precise, it "hogged".

Salvors raced out to sea in an effort to salvage the vessel, but by the time they arrived, the two halves of the ship had broken apart. Within only a day or two, the two halves had drifted over 90 miles apart in the Indian Ocean. Despite great efforts to keep it afloat and tow it to India, the stern half sank within a few days.

Serious questions were immediately raised about the even distribution of weight in the cargo loading plan, but more worryingly, whether the design of the vessel was up to the job ! The wisdom of using so much high tensile steel in the vessel's hull, when constructed, began to be questioned, but with the stern half now gone and only the front half left afloat, it was therefore vital to keep that front half up, so that analysis could be done, to determine whether steel fatigue had played a part in this loss. Sadly, the front half eventually also sank, following a fire breaking out on board. The salvors had been forced to allow the fire to rage, because continued pouring of water to douse it, would only have sunk the front half even quicker. Nevertheless, in bad weather, the front half finally sank in 3,000 meter deep waters of the Indian Ocean. The sisterships of the MOL COMFORT were immediately called into port to have the strength of their steel hulls tested. Two at least were found to need considerable extra strengthening.


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