Crew rescued after container ship splits in two

The crew of a container ship that broke in two in heavy seas were rescued with the help of Inmarsat safety services.

The 316-metre (1,037-ft) Mitsui OSK Line vessel, MOL Comfort, was 200 miles off Yemen en route to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on 17 June when it suffered catastrophic hull failure.

The 26-strong crew alerted the Indian Coast Guard that they were abandoning ship and were able to escape in a lifeboat and two life rafts before the carrier – loaded with about 7,000 containers – split in half.

Vessel alert
The Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Mumbai used Inmarsat to alert three vessels in the area.

The MV Yantian Express was first to arrive on scene and picked up the crew. There were no reported injuries.

“The quick rescue would have not been possible without the use of Inmarsat,” said Mumbai MRCC Commandant NV Rama Rao.

Abandon ship
“We could not communicate with the stricken vessel as the crew had already communicated their intention to abandon.

“We used Inmarsat to communicate with the ships in the vicinity and established MV Yantian Express was one nautical mile from the MOL Comfort.”

The two sections of the vessel are now drifting 20 nautical miles apart in the Indian Ocean.

Safety updates
The Japanese shipping company has sent a patrol boat to monitor the situation until tugboats can tow the wreckage to port.

Meanwhile the coast guard is using Inmarsat's EGC SafetyNet service to provide updates for other vessels in the area.

MOL reports that there has been no large oil spill and that most of the containers remain on board.

“We have started investigating the cause of the incident jointly with the vessel's shipbuilder, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries,” it stated.