Following last week’s news that Mitsui OSK’s container vessel MOL Comfort had split in two in the Indian Ocean with the loss of some of its cargo, the situation has worsened this week with the sinking of the aft section, which was carrying 1,700 containers. It is reported that no further salvage operations will be possible because of adverse weather conditions.

Emergency logistics provider Evolution Time Critical said that the latest development presents a serious logistical challenge for automotive companies with parts aboard the vessel.
“A number of OEMs and tier ones had containers aboard the MOL Comfort,” said managing director, Brad Brennan. “These companies are now faced with trying to determine if their cargo has sunk with the aft section of the ship, or if it is still being recovered to the Arabian Gulf.

The MOL Comfort 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 and then split in two. Salvage vessels reached the two halves of the vessel on the 26th June and were in the process of towing them to shallower waters but the aft section had continued to take on water because of adverse weather conditions.

The loss of 1,700 containers exacerbates the threat of supply shortages to the automotive industry.

“Manufacturers may have to reorder supplies from source and face costly breaks in production unless a plan b is in place,” said Brennan. “The challenge now is to obtain accurate knowledge in order to implement contingency plans.”

Around 1,500 metric tonnes of fuel oil are estimated to be aboard the sunken tanks but no large volume leaks have so far been reported.