The International Association of Classifications Societies (IACS) have announced plans to adopt a series of new safety requirements, designed to improve the safety of large container ships
The new safety regulations have been developed in response to the MOL Comfort incident. The MOL Comfort was a post-Panamax container ship, which broke into two and sank following a fire onboard. The new safety requirements adopted by IACS are based on findings made by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism regarding the structural safety of container ships of a similar size to the MOL Comfort.
The crew of the MOL Comfort escaped with their lives intact, but concerns have been made that it would be difficult to launch a successful rescue mission for incidents of this magnitude for vessels located further out at sea. The MOL Comfort disaster ended up costing the company's insurers between $300m and $400m in claims.
The new safety requirements will come into force on the 1st of July, 2016. Philippe Donche-Gay, chairman of the IACS, said in a statement: “Once again IACS has demonstrated its unrivalled technical capacity by delivering important Unified Requirements in a very tight timeframe that will further enhance large container ship safety.”
The wider marine cargo industry relies heavily on exchange rates to ensure economic efficiency. Recent years have seen a trend for building ever larger vessels, with Mærsk having built 8 ships in the new E Series of container ships since 2006. The world's largest container ship, the MSC Oscar, was launched in January, 2015 and has a capacity of 19,224 TEU. Research by BIMCO has identified that since 2009 a falling trend has emerged for fleets of container ships with a capacity of 1,000 - 3,000 TEU, and that this market segment is the only one where container ship demolition is taking place.
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Photo by Frans Berkelaar.