Throughout these commentaries we’ve been discussing a number of the benefits provided by our patented shipboard storage and retrieval system. We’ve placed emphasis on the fact that a container ship with this system installed would scan/inspect every container prior to a vessel’s arrival in a U.S. port, thereby guaranteeing maximum security to U.S. lives and property. What we haven’t mentioned, however, although we’ve covered the point in our patent abstracts, is that our unique system also contributes to the seaworthiness of a vessel and to the safety of its crew.
In January of 2007 the MSC Napoli was intentionally run aground off the Devon coast. The vessel was in the English Channel when structural failure of the hull caused the engine room to flood, and while under tow and in danger of sinking, the decision was made to ground it in Branscombe Bay.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) of the UK’s Department for Transportation (DfT) found that the design of the MSC Napoli was to blame for the hull’s failure and recommended a review of the technical rules used in container ship design. After screening 1,500 ships, the MAIB stated that at least 12 other ships of this design may have the same flaws and identified a number of factors that may have contributed to the structural failure of the ship’s hull, including:
• The vessel’s hull did not have sufficient buckling strength where the engine room was located.
• The classification rules applicable at the time of the vessel’s construction did not require buckling strength calculations to be undertaken beyond the vessel’s midship area.
• There was no, or insufficient, safety margin between the hull’s design loading and its ultimate strength.
• The load on the hull was likely to have been increased by whipping strength.
• The ship’s speed was not reduced sufficiently in heavy seas.
The MAIB report further noted that shippers “deliberately under-declare” containers’ weights in order to minimize taxes calculated on cargo weight, and to allow the overloading of containers and keep the declared weights within limits imposed by the DfT. The MAIB concluded that the practice of exceeding the vessel’s maximum stress levels, along with the ship’s speed and loading, had caused the vessel to “break her back” as she headed directly into high seas.
As we clearly state in the U.S. and international patent abstracts of our patented shipboard systems:
“Referring to FIG. 3, 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.”
[If the MSC Napoli had been designed with our reinforced longitudinal support system, neither her excessive speed and loading, nor the practice of exceeding her maximum stress levels would have caused the vessel to “break her back” as she headed into high seas.]