Rogue ships need new regulations



In an investigation into rogue containers carried out by myself for Yachting Monthly and published in the April 2007 issue (Accidents waiting to happen) we warned that giant ships driving hard to meet demanding schedules were becoming ‘more susceptible to damage.’

Now , unfortunately, our predictions have become a cold reality. Today the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published a report into MSC Napoli which was deliberately grounded a mile off Sidmouth in Devon last year to stop her sinking. She shed some 200 containers, carrying everything from disposable nappies to luxury motor-cycles, before being beached.

The MAIB report has found that the ship broke her back as she hit big seas because she was laden with overloaded containers and steaming too fast for the conditions.

Now the MAIB have warned that a review of safety rules governing container ship design and a code of practice covering operations is urgently needed to prevent further losses.

The MAIB has found that 22 ships they inspected, following the Napoli stranding,have design flaws. They condemned the widespread practice in the industry of failing to load containers properly either to save time or avoid taxes (factors covered in an earlier YM investigation into containers: Killer containers in May 2001).

The MAIB report concludes: ‘Evidence obtained during tis and other MAIB investigations into container shipping accidents suggests that in reality the safety of ships, crews and the environment is being compromised by the overriding desire to maintain established schedules or optimise port turn-round times.’

For environment read us: the yachtsman.