Converting a Sinking Ship

The MaritimeSecurity.Asia report of June 18, 2013 provided a photo of the MOL Comfort showing considerable hogging. According to the reporters:

“26 crewmembers of an MOL containership were forced to abandon ship Monday off Yemen after the ship suffered from catastrophic hull failure and sank.

“The MV MOL Comfort cracked in half about 200 miles from the Yemen coast while enroute from Singapore to Jeddah with about 4,500 containers …

“The incident was confirmed by the ship’s operator, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines …

“Weather at the time was strong winds and seas up to six meters.

“From a naval architecture standpoint, this is a puzzling situation. Ships are designed to handle long period and large waves that crest on the bow and stern and have a trough amidships. This creates a sagging situation that puts extreme tension on the keel and compression at deck level. The opposite ‘hogging’ situation occurs when the crest of the wave moves to the center of the ship and the trough of the waves are at bow and stern.

“The repeat flexing of the ship in these perfectly times waves is likely what caused the loss of this vessel. In the photo above, a perfect example of hogging is shown, where the bow and the stern are both lying in the troughs of the two waves …” –

From Marine Log Daily News (June 24, 20130) – “The cargo laden forward section of the doomed 8,000-TEU MOL Comfort that split in two in the storm on June 17 is rolling in a storm and losing containers from the deck into the Arabian Sea.

“The after section has been under tow since late Monday or early Tuesday off the coast of Oman where it may put into an unspecified port. Salalah has been considered.

“‘The aft part is rolling heavily in adverse weather, ingressing water in the cargo hold and the loss of containers on deck is progressing. The fore part is being towed stably with majority of cargo aboard,’ said the latest MOL bulletin.

“‘The fore part is located near 15’52″N 68’53″E. The aft part is drifting near 14’13″N 66’04″E in an east-northeast direction. The weather at the site is still adverse,’ the bulletin said.

“According to shipping-building industry experts, reported the Times of Oman, damage can be attributed to basic design and building flaws, a serious imbalance in the weight of the loaded containers due to false cargo weight declarations, and a faulty cargo plan or faulty ballasting in the containership.

“MOL ships of the same age and size are being examined for design faults by the company itself, the shipbuilder and a Japanese classification society as well as the crews checking out such ships at sea.” –

“June 27, 2013 – Mitsui OSK Lines, LTD. Reports the after part of the containership MOL Comfort sank in the open sea near 14’26″N 66’26″E (water depth about 4,000m) at 11:48 (Dubai Time) on June 27. Both halves of the five year old vessel had been afloat since the hull fractured in two parts June 17 when the vessel encountered heavy weather in the Indian Ocean. MOL reported that the fore part of the ship, also being towed, was stable.” –

Please consider the reasoning above:

“According to … experts … damage can be attributed to basic design and building flaws, a serious imbalance in the weight of the loaded containers due to false cargo weight declarations, and a faulty cargo plan or faulty ballasting in the containership.”

Now consider the failsafe design of our patented containership as spelled out in the abstracts of our U.S. Patent No. 5,860,783 and U.S. Patent No. 6,077,019: Referring to conventionally-built vessels: “Containerships typically have extremely wide hatchways which are essential so that the containers can be lowered into the cargo hold across the width of the ship, maneuvered vertically into cells and stacked on top of one another … However, the size of the hatchways also affects the ship’s strength across the ship’s deck area …

“… In addition, a containership typically has a ballast system with a large double bottom, ballast side tanks and extensive high-performance pumps to ensure that the ship’s balance or trim is maintained according to the cargo being carried …”

But in our patented design: “In addition, a conventional remote control device for the motor assembly may also be provided for access to the user of the system outside the cargo hold area. The user can thus driveably move any chassis seat in any tier to any chassis seat position from a remote location … It is also appreciated that the individually movable chassis seats may be moved along the tracks to contribute to the seaworthiness and stability of the vessel such as, for example, when ballast adjustments are required …

“Along the main deck of the vessel, a series of hatches are selectively disposed in order to provide efficient and instantaneous retrieval of any one and/or all of the containers stored within the cargo hold of the ship. These selectively disposed hatches also make it possible to add reinforced longitudinal supports and transverse supports to the vessel thereby enhancing its seaworthiness by reinforcing the deck of the vessel.” –

Therefore: “A serious imbalance in the weight of loaded containers? … false cargo weight declarations? … a faulty cargo plan? … or faulty ballasting?” Inexcusable.

Our design would contend with, and overcome, any one of those deficiencies … and the MOL Comfort would still be whole today if it had been one of our designs.