Two casualties spread almost three years apart have dominated the maritime news in the past week. The loss of the 24 year old Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) Stellar Daisy (picture below right) in the South Atlantic about 2,300 nautical miles off the coast of Paraguay while carrying 260,000 tons of iron ore from Brazil to China was a sharp reminder of the fragility of life for unsuspecting seafarers. Of a crew of 24, only two Filipinos survived having been rescued from a liferaft. Initial reports indicate that the ship broke in two which of course raises many questions.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the wreck of the 140m South Korean ferry Sewol was raised and manoeuvred onboard the semi-subersible heavy lift vessel Dockwise White Marlin. The perfectly managed operation was executed by a Chinese salvage consortium which raised the Sewol between a pair of barges fitted with winches and lifting beams that were secured beneath the wreck to provide lift. Once the wreckage was sufficiently raised, the submerged Dockwise White Marlin was able to maneuver into position between the barges thereby enabling the wreck to be landed intact. The wreckage was then secured and drained in preparation for the short voyage to the port of Mokpo.
Dockwise White Marlin
Built by Guangzhou International Shipyard, PRC
Owned and operated by Dockwise Shipping, Breda, The Netherlands (a subsidiary of the Boskalis Group)
GRT 51,065 tons
DWT 62,500 MT
The Sewol capsized on April 16, 2014 off the coast Jindo Island during a routine voyage, killing 304 people, most of them students on a school trip. She is now being carefully searched for the remains for nine students who are still unaccounted for. Investigations concluded the disaster was the cumulative result of an illegal redesign, an overloaded cargo bay, an inexperienced crew and a questionable relationship between the ship operators and state regulators. Even though the vessel took around three hours to sink, many of those on board never heard an evacuation order and appeared to have been left to save themselves. South Korean maritime safety regulators were heavily criticized for the series of events leading to the loss of Sewol and for the conduct of the rescue operation, all of which resulted in a complete reorganization of the South Korean Coast Guard. The Sewol’s Master, Captain Lee Jun-Seok was sentenced to life in prison for "murder through wilful negligence" and 14 other crew members were given terms ranging from two to 12 years.
Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.