Napoli broke its back due to weak hull

PUBLISHED: 11:43 28 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:36 17 June 2010

THE investigation into the hull failure of the MSC Napoli has recommended a review of rules used in container ship design.

THE investigation into the hull failure of the MSC Napoli has recommended a review of rules used in container ship design.The inquiry, by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, heard the ship's master believed it had broken its back after hitting several large waves.The storm damaged 53,000 tonne Napoli - carrying 2,318 containers - was grounded a mile off Sidmouth in January last year amid fears she could break up while being towed to Portland, Dorset.The MAIB investigation report said this week the failure to the hull in the region of the Napoli's engine room was due to the vessel's design rather than her material condition or construction.The MAIB concluded that this, along with the ship's speed and her loading, had caused the vessel to break her back as she headed directly into high seas.It has recommended a review of the technical rules used in container ship design.As part of the on-going investigation, the MAIB identified that container ships of similar design could potentially have the same flaw. It identified that, out of 1,500 vessels screened, 12 required work to bring them up to acceptable safety standards, said the report.The 1991-built Napoli was sailing from Antwerp to Portugal when the engine room flooded after a hull failure around 45 miles south of Lizard Point, Cornwall.The MAIB report said after it hit "several large waves" there was a "large crashing or cracking sound."Vertical cracks could be seen in the hull below the waterline on the port and starboard sides, and the ship's master assessed the vessel had "broken her back".There was hull failure due to "lack of buckling strength in the engine room region", said the MAIB report.The crew of 26 abandoned ship and were rescued by two Royal Navy helicopters.The report said the Napoli was making 11 knots when the hull failed, and a reduction of speed would have "significantly reduced the risk of hull failure".The Napoli suffered hull damage in dry dock in 2001, and in the same year ran aground at full speed in the Malacca Straits, with repairs requiring 3,000 tonnes of steel.In December that year the vessel's hull was damaged berthing in Jeddah, and at the same port her hull was scored as she ran aground.


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