Container ship MOL Comfort Breaks in Two off Yemen, Crew Rescued

UPDATE: Contrary to initial reports that the ship sank, the two halves of the MOL Comfort have remained afloat. Tugs have been dispatched to the site.


PTI Photo

The container ship MOL Comfort sank today off Yemen after suffering catastrophic hull cracking near amidships. A Coast Guard official was quoted as saying, “The vessel hull broke into two off the Mumbai coast and the crew members were rescued from the ship in two life rafts and a life boat,” a Coast Guard official said.  The ship was loaded with 4,500 containers was bound from Singapore to Jeddah. [Updated]

While there has been no determination why the ship’s hull broke, it seems likely that misloaded cargo might be the culprit. When loading a container ship, there is always an imbalance between the weight of the ship and cargo pressing down and the buoyancy of the sea pushing up. Too much weight in the ends can break a ship in half, which is what appears to have happened here.

Merchant vessel ‘Mol Comfort’ splits into two off Mumbai coast, crew rescued

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21 Responses to Container ship MOL Comfort Breaks in Two off Yemen, Crew Rescued

  1. Phil says:

    Yep, that s broken alright.
    At least no one died, that we know of, like a sto-a-way?

  2. seaway7228 says:

    The scariest part of this picture apart from the utter destruction itself is the two 20 man (I would guess) liferafts against the ship side. Picture yourself having to get to that point in these overall conditions— not nice.

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  4. Anton says:

    Here are all available photos of the cleaved into two parts MOL Comfort and its position:

  5. Malik says:

    mmm:) Russian crew that is all . as my experience the russian they was as officer and Eng. so they responsible about that because they don’t Know anything they are didn’t study anything and they are fully drank all the time(@_@)

  6. Steven Toby says:

    The accident seems to have happened off India’s coast and the “Coast Guard” referred to in the text is almost certainly India’s. The title is incorrect — the break happened near Mumbai which could hardly be described as “off Yemen” unless “off” extends for hundreds of miles.

    I wonder if the parts will remain afloat long enough to be taken in tow and brought into harbor. From the photos is appears quite a large proportion of the containers are undamaged.

  7. Rick Spilman says:

    Steven, though not specified in the article I linked to the ship broke in half about 200 miles from the Yemeni coast at about 12’30″N 60′E. She was far closer to Yemen than Mumbai which is over 800 n miles from her original position.

    The ship was built to one compartment subdivision standards, so as long as the adjacent bulkheads weren’t buckled or otherwise compromised, the two sections should stay afloat for some time.

  8. Rick Spilman says:

    Thanks Anton, for passing on the vesseltracker data.

  9. Cliff Harvey says:

    Not sure it sank that quickly
    MOL Comfort Breaks In Two Off Yemen, Still Afloat [UPDATE]
    Here is a link to one of the pair photos after the seperation of bow and stern.

  10. samuel says:

    Its very unlucky for the ship, but luky for the crew because they are all rescued and alive.Maybe the reason is that the distribution of weight seems not correct during the course of loading., although in container loading its always happened.

  11. Not really much in any of these comments apart from the photo links. This is a classic vessel break due to faulty loading, no explosions involved, no conspiracy theories et cetera. With the large number of containers on board these ships keeping track of stability is always a problem. Having been both Chief Officer and Master in container vessels two main problems are faced. One the great reluctance to shift the stowage position of containers to maintain stability by shore staff and two false weights given for the containers by shore staff. These show up when the Chief Officer does his/her own stability calculations as the GM will be less than the required minimum and the vessel actual draft readings will also not match that calculated for the weights given by shore staff. This is one reason that the false weights for the containers were given to the Chief Officer in the first place hoping they will just be accepted and the vessel sail. After all the shore staff are not going to sea in her. A lot depends on the Ports involved and while one might think that Middle East and Asian Ports would be the most prone to this behaviour as Chief Officer one found Halifax, Canada to be one of the worst for presenting false container weights. On one occasion the figures were clearly so false the Master refused to load a final four or six containers bound for West African Ports.
    Good Watch.

  12. Rick Spilman says:

    Good morning Captain. Having spent quite a few years in container ship operations, I have a great deal of sympathy for the ship’s officers who are often in an impossible situation. It is difficult enough ensuring that the ship sails with adequate GM. Checking on how close the ship is to the maximum allowable bending stress is too easy to overlook.

  13. sam says:

    At a guess: Singapore to Saudi and loaded fore and aft at the last minute with very heavy containers with false weights, hurriedly (?) and what might be in those containers…wanna bet? Gunz-n-ammo? To be fair, the hull is a special steel – so maybe it’s coincidence. But let’s watch and see how the investigation smells.

  14. scott says:

    really? no conspiracy? a russain crew and a ship loaded with arms for the Syrian rebels…

  15. SALT DOG says:

    The ship is not just a truck running at sea !
    I am an old seafarer and I could say that kind of accidents will happand more frenquently in the future.
    The cause is the gap between the “nominal economy” and the “real economy”, there is not any real feed-back between the ship’s designers/builders and the real ship’s handlers (mostly low cost Asian and Eastern Europeans seafarers). Most of the so – called shipmanagement companies are hiring unexperienced office staff from Western Europe – staff without a real knowledge about ships’ operations and ships’ handling, The investors in shipping must be ready to pay for their lack of understang..

  16. kenneth davies says:

    my son is a maritime bodyguard and was on the ship when it happened all are fine he now in sri lanka waiting for another ship

  17. This appears to be a CLEAR example of overloading.I would say ‘last minute overloaded boxes’-not weighed of course accepted by ‘Planners;[not ship’s staff please note] at Singapore.WHO did it will never be admitted, but you can rest assured the ship’s staff will be blamed.The COMMON FACTOR is the Port of Singapore, which has a deploreable record for thgis sort of malpractice.They will never admit responsibility-even if lives are lost.WHy is there so much dishonesty in shipping these days.Anwer ‘greed’.Plain unvarnished greed. Capt J.Brunton.

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  19. mark says: