Maersk ship that lost containers wasn’t designed for hurricanes

The ship was vulnerable after a conversion in 2012

The Maersk ship ‘Svendborg Maersk’, which lost hundreds of containers in stormy weathers in the Bay of Biscay earlier this year, was not designed to sail in hurricane-force weather, a new report reveals.

The report – released by the Danish maritime accident investigation board Den Maritime Havarikommission – showed that a conversion in 2012 ensured increased cargo capacity but reduced safety in rough seas. This meant that the ship wasn’t designed for the hurricane-strength weather it encountered on February 14.

“The initiatives may have affected the ship’s ability to operate safely in adverse weather conditions, and it is likely to have had detrimental consequences,” the report found.

“However, the ship had never been designed or configured for operation in weather extremities like those encountered on 14 February 2014.”

READ MORE: Maersk Line loses 200-300 containers in storm

New procedures for Maersk
Twice, the ship unexpectedly rolled to extreme angles during the weather, losing 517 twenty-foot containers into the sea, while a further 250 containers were damaged.

The report could not explain why the ship rolled twice – once in the afternoon and again later that night – but the report stated that the conversion in 2012, which increased the ship’s capacity by 3,000 to 8,160 containers, made the ship vulnerable to rough weather.

The report (here in English) also revealed that the ship was equipped with route-planning tools based on meteorological data and forecasts that could predict the ship’s movements and the risk of harmonic resonance, although the latter was not used.

The incident has already led to Maersk changing a number of procedures on its ships, including new and improved weather warning systems and better training for captains and chief officers sailing in rough seas.