The worst maritime disasters in recent history


These incidents underscore the risks and challenges faced by the maritime industry and highlight the importance of stringent safety and regulations.

The worst maritime disasters in recent history
LPG Maestro in Istanbul

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse is the incident that prompted everyone involved in the maritime industry to reflect on some of the most infamous shipping disasters in recent history.

These incidents underscore the risks and challenges faced by the maritime industry and highlight the importance of stringent safety measures and regulations to prevent such tragedies in the future.

M/V Ever Given

The worst maritime disasters in recent history
Ever Given

On March 23, 2021, the 400-meter-long Ever Given, capable of carrying 20,000 TEU, one of the largest container carriers in the world at the time, veered off course and ran aground horizontally across the Suez Canal, blocking traffic for more than 400 ships.

After six days of continued efforts to refloat the vessel through a combination of dredging and the use of tugboats, the vessel was finally refloated, and the Canal reopened.

The investigation that followed revealed several factors, from excessive speed, strong winds, and poor visibility during a sandstorm, to poor decisions by the two Suez Canal Authority pilots on board at the time, as well as the Captain.

Responsible for handling 12% of global trade, the Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important waterways.

This incident became a global phenomenon and demonstrated the importance of global shipping.

LPG Candy and LPG Maestro

On January 21, 2019, a fire broke out on LPG Candy and LPG Maestro while they were engaged in STS fuel transfer in the neutral Black Sea waters off the Crimean peninsula.

Thirty-two seafarers were onboard the two ships, citizens of Turkey and India. However, only 12 of them were rescued, with the remainder either killed in the accident or missing.

The burning vessels, with four focal points on one and two on the other, were left to burn out gas from their tanks, causing the fire at sea to continue for nearly two months. A Russian tugboat periodically cooled down the hulls with water.

M/V Maersk Mohan

On March 6, 2018, the 353-meter-long ULCS Maersk Mohan, loaded with 7,860 containers (corresponding to 12,416 TEU with her nominal capacity of 15,262 TEU), was heading in the Arabian Sea, about 900 nautical miles southeast of Salalah, Oman, for a Mediterranean destination, when a fire erupted in one of the cargo holds followed by powerful explosions. The crew tried to extinguish the fire unaided for some time but then sent a distress signal.

Of the 27 crew members onboard, 23 were evacuated to a nearby containership. Unfortunately, five others died in the accident.

The ship was ravaged by fire for a month. At one point, the flames rose 25 meters above the main deck to the bridge and could be seen from space. The cargo in the vessel’s forward holds was declared a total loss, while the containers located behind the ship’s superstructures remained intact.

Maersk Line rebuilt the ship at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea, where it was originally delivered in 2017. The ULCV Maersk Mohan returned to operation in 2019.

M/T Sanchi

On January 6, 2018, the Iranian tanker Sanchi, carrying 136,000 tons of ultra-light oil, collided with a bulker off the Chinese coast near Shanghai. The collision caused a fire that claimed the lives of the entire crew.

The vessel sank on January 14, spewing oil into the depths of the sea. The oil slick later reached Japan and was dubbed the worst environmental disaster in 30 years.

A special commission investigating the incident reached ambiguous conclusions about the cause of the tragedy. While Chinese representatives believed both vessels were to blame for the collision, the ship operators blamed each other.

MSC Flaminia

The German-flagged 300-meter-long containership MSC Flaminia was hit by a series of explosions and a strong fire in her cargo holds during a voyage across the North Atlantic in July 2012. The blast and fire resulted in the loss of four lives. The remaining crewmembers left the vessel and were picked up by a passing ship.

MSC Flaminia burned for several weeks, emitting toxic smoke into the air. Due to the environmental hazard, the vessel was denied a place of refuge.

Finally, almost three months after the first explosion, Germany agreed to accept her into Wilhelmshaven. The ship was eventually repaired and returned to service in 2014.

In the aftermath of the catastrophe, the European Union adopted new guidelines for ships in need of assistance.

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