Container ships caught at violating safety rules

Despite the MSC Zoe disaster in the Dutch Wadden Sea at the beginning of last year, shipping companies still massively violate international rules on safety for large container ships. This follows from a major inspection of container ships in the port of Rotterdam by the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT).

The inspection reports were requested by local news media Omrop Fryslân and RTV Noord via an appeal to the Government Information Act (Wet openbaarheid van bestuur, Wob).

Defects were found in 42 of the 69 ships inspected. These include broken and missing twistlocks, to which the containers are connected, the non-fastening of cargo hold hatches, or incorrect securing of containers. In a number of cases, the ships’ weight distribution was not in order. This can lead to additional danger in severe weather or unforeseen circumstances.

The inspections were already held in April last year, but the results had so far not been published.

The ILT investigation does not answer the question of why the MSC Zoe containers were lost, writes Dutch Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) to Parliament on Thursday 14 May. The Dutch Safety Board (OVV) is investigating this matter.

Van Nieuwenhuizen does mention the fact that the ships are becoming larger and the stacks of containers on them higher. How the containers are placed has an influence on the stability of the ship. Loading and unloading this type of ship is specialised work. Lashing companies have to work a number of shifts at a time in order to get the large ship to leave on time.

Source: ANP

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.