Department for Transport
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MAIB publishes MSC Napoli report

MAIB publishes MSC Napoli report

DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (066) issued by The Government News Network on 22 April 2008

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has today published a report following the completion of their investigation into the structural failure of the hull of the MSC Napoli.

Following a complex and wide-ranging investigation, the MAIB found that the failure to the hull in the region of the ship's engine room was due to the vessel's design rather than her material condition or construction. The MAIB concluded that this, along with the ship's speed and her loading, had caused the vessel to break her back as she headed directly into high seas. It has therefore recommended a review of the technical rules used in container ship design.

As part of the on-going investigation the MAIB identified that container ships of similar design could potentially have the same design flaw and have identified that out of 1500 vessels screened, 12 require work to bring them up to acceptable safety standards.

Stephen Meyer, Chief Inspector of the Marine Accidents Investigation Branch, said:

"The MAIB has worked closely with the world's leading classification societies to identify any other vessels that may have the same design flaw as the MSC Napoli. Out of 1500 vessels screened 12 required structural work; until such work can be completed, their safety will be ensured through operational limitations.

I am very pleased that, at the request of the MAIB, the International Chamber of Shipping and the World Shipping Council have already started work on the development of a Code of Best Practice for the container ship industry. This work will take into account the lessons identified by the MAIB investigation and should lead to a much safer industry."

The MAIB has made a series of recommendations to the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) to improve the current technical rules regarding container ship design, and to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the owners of the vessel Zodiac Maritime Agencies Ltd to make the operation of container ships safer.

Notes to Editors

1. The full report is available at: http://www.maib.gov.uk

2. On 18 January 2007 the container ship MSC Napoli when on passage in the English Channel suffered a structural failure of the hull causing the engine room to flood. The 26 crew abandoned the vessel and were recovered by two Royal Navy helicopters. There were no injuries. The MSC Napoli was towed towards Portland and was intentionally beached in Branscombe Bay, due to the risk she might break up or sink. A number of containers were lost overboard when the vessel listed heavily after beaching.

3. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is an independent branch within the Department for Transport (DfT) which examines and investigates all types of marine accidents to or on board UK ships worldwide, and other ships in UK territorial waters. Its sole objective in investigating an accident is to determine its circumstances and causes, with the aim of improving the safety of life at sea and the avoidance of accidents in the future. It is not its purpose to apportion liability, nor, except so far as is necessary to achieve the fundamental purpose, to apportion blame.

4. Classification societies are non-governmental organisations which:

* set technical rules and requirements;
* confirm that ship designs meet these rules;
* survey vessels during construction and commissioning, and
* periodically survey vessels when in service to ensure they continue to meet the rules of the class.

5. The world's leading classification societies are members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) and are American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas, China Class Society, Det Norske Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, Lloyd's Register, Nippon Kaiji, Registrano Italiano, Russian Register and the South Korean Register.

6. During the 1980s there were a number of losses of bulk carriers worldwide which prompted changes to the design and operation of these vessels. They also prompted the use of equipment allowing masters to monitor the stresses on the vessel's hull. As a newer class of vessel, this is only the second hull failure of a container ship which has resulted in the loss of the vessel.

7. The container shipping industry is a crucial link in international trade as most of the world's manufactured goods are carried in containers. The equivalent of about 141 million TEU was transported by sea in 2007 (one TEU represents the cargo capacity of a standard shipping container 20 feet long and 8 feet wide).

As of October 2007, the global fully cellular container vessel fleet stood at 4,178 vessels with more than 1400 on order. The largest container ships have a capacity of about 12000 TEU.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
MAIB Website: http://www.maib.gov.uk

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