Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) today informed that the aft part of its container vessel MOL COMFORT, which had broken in two in a storm, finally sank. The MOL COMFORT had suffered a structural failure of her hull on Monday 17 June, while sailing in adverse weather conditions and a heavy swell.
At the time of the accident, the ship was underway westbound from Singapore to Jeddah on a routine voyage on the G6-alliance’s Loop 1. The vessel’s crew was able to abandon the ship and was subsequently saved by a container vessel in the vicinity. The two separated parts of the MOL COMFORT had remained afloat for ten days, with most of the cargo still on board, until the aft part of the hull, which includes the main engine and accommodation block, finally sank today.
MOL said that the aft part of the striken ship had been rolling heavily in the adverse weather and that the salvage tug, which had arrived on the scene earlier, was unable to establish a towing line. With more and more water entering the fractured holds, the aft part of MOL COMFORT finally lost stability and sank.
The fore part of the damaged vessel is meanwhile relatively stable, with almost all containers still onboard. The salvage company contracted to rescue the cargo has successfully established a tow line to the bow of MOL COMFORT and is now towing the bow section toward the Middle East Gulf.
While the root cause of MOL COMFORT’s accident has not been determined yet, MOL has started an investigation together with the shipbuilder, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Japansese classification society Nippon Kaiji Kyokai.
The carrier today announced that it decided to take immediate action and send the sister ships of MOL COMFORT (the MOL CREATION, MOL CHARISMA, MOL CELEBRATION, MOL COURAGE, MOL COMPETENCE and the recently-delivered MOL COMMITMENT) to a shipyard to carry out upgrade works on the vessels’ hulls.
MOL pointed out that, while all ships in the series were built to the high safety standard required by their classification society, it had nevertheless decided to conduct upgrade works to further strengthen the hull structure at the earliest opportunity.
According to MOL, this will enhance the strength of the hull to twice the required standard. The vessels will phase-out from service to go to drydock and the sailing schedule will be revised accordingly.