UPDATE 30.01.2021 : It has been reported that the Ever Liberal is back in service.. “The damaged containers were then off-loaded and the minor damage to the hull structure was repaired. The ship received classification society’s approval of seaworthiness and resumed service on 6 January. The incident caused a schedule delay of eight days and Ever Liberal arrived at the anchorage of Los Angeles on 18 January. The ship berthed on 26 January due to port congestion.” the report said..
The year 2021 is barely off its marks and it has already claimed its first maritime disaster casualty..
Containership EVER LIBERAL, a 7 year old UK Flagged ship was sailing from Busan, South Korea to Los Angeles in USA on the 2nd of January 2021 when it encountered heavy seas and strong winds around 20 nautical miles Southwest of Kyushu, Japan in the East China Sea..
The Ever Liberal, an 8,452 TEU capacity vessel is said to have lost 36×40′ containers overboard with an additional 21×40′ containers collapsing on board within its stacks..
The ship is said to have faced very rough conditions with waves of around 18-20 feet when the incident occurred..
As per Evergreen Marine Corp (EMC) who are the operators of the vessel, there has been no casualties or injuries to the ship’s crew..
The Master of the vessel has notified Japanese Coast Guard of the incident so that they could alert other ships and boats in the vicinity to be alert for any floating containers..
Fleetmon, however, seems to have reported on the 30th Dec already as below
“Dec 30: Many 40-foot containers spotted floating east of Shimokushiki-Jima island and Kyushu coast at 0230 UTC Dec 30, in vicinity 31 21N 129 30E.
Containers may be lost by container ship EVER LIBERAL (IMO 9604160, dwt 104103, capacity 8452 TEU), according to her track/timeline/positions/speed, and most importantly, the fact, that the ship changed her port of destination.
She was en route from Busan to Los Angeles, but at around 0900 UTC Dec 30 changed port of destination, now it’s Tokyo, ETA Dec 31.”
As at the time of the incident it has been advised that none of the containers that have fallen overboard was carrying any hazardous/dangerous goods..
The ship has been diverted to Taipei in Taiwan where it has been berthed since the 3rd January to offload the collapsed containers and to assess any damages to the ship and cargo..
EMC has also advised that it is working with authorities to recover the containers that have fallen on board..
As I noted in my Shipping and Freight Review of 2020, while 2020 was not as bad as 2019, it had its own fair share of maritime disasters with an important difference that in 2020, authorities seem to have stepped up things a notch in terms of responsibility with ship Captains being personally held accountable for these disasters..
Let us see what 2021 holds in this regard..
But the question is
- How long will such incidents continue and should the ship Captain be the whole and sole responsible party for such incidents..??
- Does climate change have any role to play in this increasing trend of maritime disasters..??