THE thin oil slick reported in the area where the forward section of the 8,000-TEU MOL Comfort sank off the Yemeni-Omani coast has dispersed and "most" of the floating containers have gone to the bottom.
"Most of the floating containers sank and could no longer be spotted," the Japanese shipping giant MOL reported in its latest communique. "While we kept a salvage team in the area to monitor the situation of oil leakage and floating containers, no oil film was observed.
"We have been proceeding with a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the incident," said MOL.
Hong Kong's Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), MOL's alliance partner, notified customers of the total loss of the ship.
OOCL told customers the ship suffered extensive damage to the hull on June 17 in the Indian Ocean while travelling from Singapore to Jeddah in rough weather. Its after section sank on June 27.
"All the containers that were loaded on the vessel are now lost at sea. In your best interest, we recommend that you notify your insurer of this incident if your cargoes are insured," said the OOCL statement.
Some 1,600 tonnes of bunker fuel and other oils sank with the forward end of the ship while fire blazed when under tow in the Arabian Sea.
"About 2,400 containers on board the fore part of the vessel sank together, while some have been confirmed floating near the site," said MOL.
Once the two parts of the ship separated in heavy swells, the after section including the wheelhouse and crew's quarters wallowed in the swells for a few days after the men took to the boats before being picked up by Hapag-Lloyd's 10,000-TEU Yantian Express that happened to be passing in the busy trade lane.
Once the after section went down, a patrol boat stayed in the area, while deepsea tugs put the forward section under tow. In adverse weather, while under tow, the cables disconnected. Shortly after re-connection to the front end of the ship, fire broke out in the rear, first burning off the containers on deck and then continuing to burn out of control below deck, despite the efforts of fire fighting appliances.