Automotive OEMs and tier one suppliers are trying to assess what losses they may have made following the break up of the Mitsui OSK container vessel – MOL Comfort – off the coast of Yemen, which was carrying almost 4,400 containers.

“We have been in contact with a number of high profile OEMs that have containers onboard the MOL vessel, and have been working to establish not only what they may have lost, but what their suppliers also had on board,” said Evolution Time Critical managing director, Brad Brennan.

The two halves of the container vessel remain afloat with the majority of containers reported still on board and they are now in the process of being recovered by five rescue vessels said MOL, albeit in the face of some adverse weather conditions. But an as yet unspecified number of containers have been lost. The full extent of the losses will not be known until the two parts of the ship are fully recovered.

The vessel was travelling in the Indian Ocean between Singapore and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia when it suffered severe structural damage during stormy seas on June 17th around 200 nautical miles of the Saudi coast. All 26 crew on board were rescued.

MOL’s car carrier vessel Sanderling Ace has been monitoring the condition of the vessel.

The MOL Comfort’s origin was in Japan suggesting that the OEMs involved are likely to be mainly Japanese manufacturers.

According to Brennan many of the OEMs with cargo aboard the vessel were unaware of the fact, something he said Evolution Time Critical had helped alert them to, enabling them to make further investigations and assess whether they or their suppliers were affected. That lack of awareness has raised the question of visibility in the supply chain, something that can help avoid unnecessary delays and put into action contingency plans according to Brennan.

“For example, one OEM had 30 containers on the vessel, another had 20,” he said. “A further customer had a similar number, but by a stroke of good fortune theirs had been offloaded from this vessel en route in Singapore and transhipped onto another sailing to Europe.”

The vessel was not due into Europe until weeks 27/28 of the year so there is no immediate shortage of parts. The pending summer shutdowns are also on the side of supply chain planners.

“One or two customers have told us that they were fortunately holding more stock than normal, which has eased the situation,” he said. “For the rest, it all depends on what was lost at sea, and what is still on the vessel when recovered.  If their material is still safely on board, then it is simply a case of getting them in as soon as possible.  If their material is lost or damaged, then this will involve re-sourcing or production of replacement components, and airfreighting in.”

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines has said it has started an investigation of the causes of the structural failure together with the shipbuilder, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and the classification body Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, Class NK. The failure has come as a surprise, not least because the vessel is only five years old. An inspection of all six of MOL Comfort's sister vessels is also being arranged as quickly as possible. These include MOL Creation, MOL Charisma, MOL Celebration, MOL Courage, MOL Competence and MOL Commitment.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by the incident,” said the company in as statement. “We take the incident very seriously and continue to devote every effort to rectify the situation at the earliest possible moment. We will also conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause and take company-wide measures aimed at preventing reoccurrence of such incident in the future.”

There is no confirmed evidence of an oil spill around the two parts of the vessel.