ASIA: Shipbuilder rejects responsibility for MOL Comfort casualty


      by      Max Tingyao Lin    —    last modified        Apr 22, 2014 12:52 PM  
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has fought back against accusations that its negligence caused the five-year-old boxship MOL Comfort to split and sink off Yemen last year, saying issues related to ship operation might be the actual reasons for the incident.       

In an emailed statement to Lloyd’s List, the Japanese shipbuilder said it believed the casualty did not result from hull design or construction, which was carried out in compliance with ClassNK and International Association of Classification Societies rules.
“MHI believes that the ship’s accident was attributed to… reasons other than the hull design or construction,” the statement said.
“For example, unforeseen effects of the ship’s cargo load caused by overweight containers and disproportionate loading of them... or by problems with respect to safe navigation management in rough sea.”
Mitsui OSK Lines, the owner and operator of MOL Comfort, is seeking at least ¥13.8bn (US$131.6m) from MHI, in a lawsuit expected to last well into next year at least, for damages related to the incident and to cover the costs of strengthening sisterships.
Claiming that the casualty resulted from vessel defects and the shipbuilder’s negligence, MOL is asking for nearly ¥8.2bn for the ship’s total loss and compensation related to loss of trading days when strengthening the hulls of the sisterships, among other items under Japan’s product liability law.
MHI plans to reject all the claims and responsibility in the accident and says it does not believe MOL Comfort’s hull structure was defective.
“The ship… was designed and constructed in compliance with the specifications provided by MOL, international conventions, requirements of the flag state, MHI’s most up-to-date knowledge about design and construction acquired up to the time, and the requirements of ClassNK,” the statement said.
“Furthermore, following approval of the ship’s design drawings by ClassNK and the owner, the ship was accepted in all inspections and surveys during the construction stage.”
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