On June 17, 2013, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines’ 2008-built MOL Comfort began suffering from severe hogging and broke in two while underway from Singapore to Jeddah with a load of 7,041 TEUs. The crew escaped in life rafts and were picked up by another merchant vessel. The stern section was never recovered and sank some 10 days later. The bow section was towed most of the way towards the Arabian Gulf, but eventually burst into flames and sank. Here is a collection of photos of the incident.

MOL Comfort on June 17, 2013.

FULL COVERAGE: MOL Comfort Incident

MOL Comfort breaks in two

MOL Comfort breaks in half, June 17, 2013.

Both fore and aft sections set adrift in the Indian Ocean. Image credit: MRCC

Image credit: MRCC

Bow section picture after breaking apart July 17. Image credit: MRCC Mumbai

Image credit: MRCC Mumbai

On June 25, Sri Lanka Shipping company’s tug, M/V Capricorn, connected to the bow section and commenced towing to the Arabian Gulf. Tugs were never able to connect to the stern section.

SEE ALSO: Is Container Weight the Issue?

mol comfort under tow

mol comfort under tow

mol comfort under tow Haldane van Horen

Image (c) Al Malone

mol comfort under tow Haldane van Horen

Under tow. Image (c) Al Malone

On June 27, the stern section began taking on water and sank with an estimated 1,700 containers and 1,500 metric tons of fuel oil. These photos sent to gCaptain were taken over a five minute period.

IMG_0345

IMG_0350

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On July 2, the MOL Comfort’s bow section broke free from its towing wire while in adverse sea conditions. Crews were able to reconnected and continue towing. Four days later, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines reported that on July 6, a fire broke towards the rear of the bow section, and fire fighting efforts commenced.

More MOL Comfort firefighting images and video can be seen HERE

Major-fire-in-s24706

firefighting mol comfort indian coast guard

Image (c) Indian Coast Guard

firefighting mol comfort indian coast guard

Image (c) Indian Coast Guard

Image (c) Indian Coast Guard

Image (c) Indian Coast Guard

firefighting mol comfort indian coast guard

Image (c) Indian Coast Guard

Image courtesy Indian Coast Guard

Image courtesy Indian Coast Guard

mol comfort

image via Ole, gCaptain contributor

mol comfort

image via Ole, gCaptain contributor

mol comfort

image via Ole, gCaptain contributor

mol comfort

image via Ole, gCaptain contributor

mol comfort

image via Ole, gCaptain contributor

In a statement July 10, 2013, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines said that most of the containers on deck have been burnt out, but they have not been able to confirm the situation in the cargo hold. An update said that the bow section sank near 19’56”N 65’25”E (water depth about 3,000m) at 19:00 UTC on July 10 (04:00 on July 11 JST).  The section sank with about 2,400 containers and 1,600 metric tons of fuel oil, MOL has estimated.

MOL Comfort

July 10. Image (c) gCaptain. Click for large.

mol comfort position

Plotted approximate positions of where the MOL Comfort broke apart and eventually sank

FULL COVERAGE: MOL Comfort Incident

MOL Comfort seen in 2009.

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  • Earl Duke

    NOW YOU SEE IT…NOW YOU DON’T…WAY TO WHIP !!!

    • kishke

      I’m glad your container arrived okay. Ignore the idiots.

    • http://buy.com janelle

      lol! totally. i just ordered the cutest pair of strappy wedges from china and i sure hope they arrive in my overstuffed consumer graveyard of a gigantic walkin suburban air-conditioned closet ‘safe and sound’….

      woops about the MOL Comfort though, right? i mean comfort, right? haha lol.

      • http://buy.com janelle

        oh, wait nm i think i paid for airmail. i hope that shit doesn’t crash into the himalayas though!

    • Chris

      Well, you don’t say this on tragic event like this. You should seriously brush up with your presentation skills.

    • Ina

      The world is a connected place. This ship and cargo’s total loss will probably raise the insurance premium of the shipping line, and MOL will probably charge this back on their freight next year. Those cargo on board sank in the sea will cause pollutions and damage all the environmental balance(if there is still one) then the fish you buy from supermarket is all from polluted hazadarous chemical sea water. You think something like this is rubbish but has nothing to do with you? NO, this affects everyone living in this world, just you don’t realize it..

      • Jeremy Irons

        Way to go Ina!!

    • JoeOvercoat

      Indeed, we should never take the success of a voyage for granted, and are lucky every time our item makes it across the globe/around the world, and in debt to the sailors that make it happen.

      P.S. As for everyone reading more into what you wrote, that you don’t care about the globe etc, don’t let it bother you.

  • Elisabeth

    Cris, well said to Sarah. This is a huge loss for the environment, jobs and the company, not to say the thousands of customers with their goods on board. All I hope is that all is done to prevent this from happening again, i.e. with the reinforcement of other similar ships and in the industry in general. If it weren’t for our thirst for cheap products, maybe the seas (and airs) would be a little less crowded…

    • Jeremy Irons

      “If it weren’t for our thirst for cheap products” Oh well, I think it’s rather some people’s thirst for more and more money than what you describe to be the problem Elisabeth. That’s my opinion anyway!

      • Phasma Felis

        So, what, you think those containers just magically turn into money? They *make* money by *selling* the cheap products. If we didn’t want and buy the cheap products, they wouldn’t make and sell them, they’d find some other way to make money.

        • nicholas

          so you mean that if we were to buy expensive products this wouldnt happen? Or perhaps you mean that with my paycheck cut in half I should buy expensive products?

  • John

    Elisabeth: Loss for the environment? New reef for the fish. Jobs? Well, someone gets to build a whole new ship, a bunch of containers, (mine the iron for the steel, etc) and all the crap that was in them. I say it’s a huge boon for the economy. All that stuff gets to be built all over again. You complain about 1 ship. Ha! How many were countries and ships were destroyed in WWII? Seriously, get over it. 1 ship. The world is a big place.

    • Martin

      Ever heard about the broken window fallacy ?

      • Jack

        Yep, I was going to say the same thing (broken window fallacy).

        Let’s just chuck everything we ever make into the garbage so we can be assured that we need to make more, guaranteeing prosperity forever! Bzzzt, wrong, sorry John, it doesn’t work that way.

    • scowell

      reefs don’t form at 3000m depth… but bunker fuel can sure escape and float upward.

  • Rich

    Compared to all the losses during WWII this is nothing but a drop in the bucket. The world is still alive and life goes on. One container ship and the world is again headed to oblivion. Get over it. This Earth is going to be here long after all life as we know it is gone…and it isn’t going to be our fault. Duck when you see the next asteroid coming. It won’t help, but hey, at least we won’t be around to draft new legislation to save the world…again…

    • chuck zito

      So why do you get up and get out of bed in the morning Rich if life just goes on and nothing special happens and we shouldn’t do anything about anything? You know what I mean? It is human nature to try to improve things. The Earth will be here, but it might be cold and dead after we kill ourselves off and kill the planet too.

      I wonder what diverse products were on that thing and where they would have ended up.

    • Phasma Felis

      Millions of people died in WWII, and the human race goes on, even flourishes. Therefore, you won’t mind if I kill you. Right?

  • Webby

    So if I get my ship to go there (international waters I presume) and retrieve a few containers, do they and their content become mine?

  • Amazed

    Japan is a safety country!!

    • manko

      speak english or die

  • Bob

    Someone didn’t want their cargo to arrive. Boat splits in two and the surviving end spontaneously combusts? :P

    In truthfulness though, my sympathy goes out to everyone affected by this.

  • Jon

    As someone whose family business involves importing 10,000+ containers a year, this is a nightmare of epic proportions. Luckily I don’t use MOL often, but somtimes their East African (dar es salam, Mombassa, Djibouti) to Nola , U.S.E.C.rates are competitive with Maersk and MSC.

  • Mongoose

    The first rule of fighting a fire at sea: Don’t sink the ship.

    • Rich

      Hey, they put the fire out!!

    • Rich

      What environment did it leave? The ocean?

  • Punit

    1) The media in India were surprisingly silent about this tragedy.
    2) How come after break up, this ship’s sections were rapidly moved as close as possible to India? I’m not being oversensitive. See the map. What was the plan?
    3) Is anyone even bothered about the environmental damage assessment, a cleanup, compensation and punishing the guilty. There’s been a crime/ serious accident here.

  • Mohammed Alhassan

    while life must go on, still there are a lot of people that will adversly be affected by this loss. my heart goes to them. i really cant explain the fire, its so mysterius.

  • bbb

    The insurers will be picking up a large tab here. And they will look to recover their losses not only from the shipping lines but thee & me when we insure our houses and cars. When those sunken fuel tanks corrode and spill their load, the clean up bill will be gigantic.

  • http://www.greyhawkgrognard.com Greyhawk Grognard

    Coincidentally, all of the late Kickstarters I sponsored over the last two years were on that ship…

  • Landlubber

    I have just read this story on gCaptain. Very interesting on lots of points. Why the hogging/split? High seas? Towing presumably for salvage? Do containers float for very long? Do bunkers/tanks implode at 3000m? Corrosion takes forever so dribble of pollution? Think of the $25bn in the Gulf of Mexico and the rapid rate that mother nature cleaned up the mess. MOL Comfort is peanuts for Lloyd by comparison

  • bhupinder

    as a sailor i would say that one should go to the root cause of problem,is it weight of containers (over loaded) or ballast distribution was the problem,any way it seems to be human mistake.

  • Lorne

    Hmm. Age of vessel? I wonder if we are looking at a fleet issue.

  • Greg

    I am relieved no one died in this accident. It is unfortunate there is no effective way of cleaning up after this type of event.

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