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Report on the investigation of

the structural failure of

MSC Napoli
English Channel
on 18 January 2007

Marine Accident Investigation Branch


Carlton House
Carlton Place
Southampton
United Kingdom
SO15 2DZ
Report No 9/2008
April 2008

Extract from
The United Kingdom Merchant Shipping
(Accident Reporting and Investigation)
Regulations 2005 Regulation 5:
The sole objective of the investigation of an accident under the Merchant Shipping (Accident
Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2005 shall be the prevention of future accidents
through the ascertainment of its causes and circumstances. It shall not be the purpose of an
investigation to determine liability nor, except so far as is necessary to achieve its objective, to
apportion blame.
NOTE
This report is not written with litigation in mind and, pursuant to Regulation 13(9) of the
Merchant Shipping (Accident Reporting and Investigation) Regulations 2005, shall be
inadmissible in any judicial proceedings whose purpose, or one of whose purposes is to
attribute or apportion liability or blame.

Cover photograph courtesy of Marine Nationale


Further printed copies can be obtained via our postal address, or alternatively by:
Email: maib@dft.gsi.gov.uk
Tel:
023 8039 5500
Fax: 023 8023 2459
All reports can also be found on our website:
www.maib.gov.uk

CONTENTS

Page

GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS


SYNOPSIS

Section 1 - FACTUAL INFORMATION

1.1
1.2
1.3

1.4
1.5

1.6

1.7

1.8
1.9

1.10
1.11
1.12

Particulars of MSC Napoli and accident


Background
Narrative
1.3.1 Hull failure
1.3.2 Abandonment
1.3.3 Post-accident events
Environmental conditions
Loaded condition
1.5.1 On sailing Antwerp
1.5.2 Deadload
Vessel design and construction
1.6.1 Overview
1.6.2 Hull framing
1.6.3 Material
1.6.4 Bureau Veritas rules and calculations
Hull condition
1.7.1 Survey
1.7.2 Material tests
1.7.3 Post-build repairs to welds
1.7.4 Previous damage
Classification rule developments
Load and strength assessments
1.9.1 DNV
1.9.2 BV
Slamming and hull whipping
Container audit
Container ship industry
1.12.1 Growth
1.12.2 Advantages
1.12.3 Container ship design
1.12.4 World fleet

3
4
4
4
7
8
12
14
14
15
16
16
16
18
18
19
19
20
23
25
26
27
27
27
28
28
29
29
30
30
30

Section 2 - ANALYSIS

32

2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4

32
32
32
33
33
33
34
35
35
35
35
36
38

2.5

Aim
Similar accidents
Structural analyses
Loading
2.4.1 General
2.4.2 Static loading condition
2.4.3 Wave loading
2.4.4 Slamming and hull whipping
Vessel capacity (strength)
2.5.1 Keel section modulus distribution
2.5.2 Buckling strength requirement
2.5.3 Buckling strength assessment
2.5.4 Hull construction and condition

2.6
2.7
2.8

IACS Unified Requirements


Immediate action taken to identify ships vulnerable to localised buckling
Vessel operation
2.8.1 Speed and heading in heavy weather
2.8.2 Operation of the main engine without a governor
2.8.3 Departure and arrival hull loading conditions
2.9
Weight of containers
2.10 Container ship industry
2.10.1 Environment and culture
2.10.2 Industry code of best practice
2.11 Abandonment

39
40
40
40
41
41
42
42
42
43
44

Section 3 CONCLUSIONS

45

3.1

3.2

3.3

Safety issues contributing to the accident which have resulted


in recommendations
Other safety issues identified during the investigation also
leading to recommendations
Safety issues identified during the investigation which have not
resulted in recommendations but have been addressed

45
46
46

Section 4 - action taken

47

4.1
4.2
4.3

Classification Societies
International Chamber of Shipping
Maritime and Coastguard Agency

47
47
47

Section 5 recommendations

48

Figures, Tables and Annexes


Figure 1

Ships track as recorded by AIS (UTC)

Figure 2

Forward engine room arrangement showing fracture line

Figure 3

MSC Napoli following the structural failure

Figure 4

Recovery of the crew

Figure 5

MSC Napoli under tow

Figure 6

MSC Napoli beached at Branscombe Bay

Figure 7

MSC Napoli forward section

Figure 8

MSC Napoli aft section

Figure 9

Tidal Stream Atlas for 1020 UTC

Figure 10

Surface analysis for 1100 UTC

Figure 11

Departure condition on leaving the berth in Antwerp

Figure 12

Condition on leaving the River Schelde

Figure 13

MSC Napoli profile showing 0.4L amidships region and engine room

Figure 14

Extract of shell expansion drawing

Figure 15

Path of fracture line established during dive surveys

Figure 16

Forward section of hull in Belfast dock

Figure 17

Localised plate buckling port sea chest

Figure 18

Starboard side hull collapse near lower sea chests

Figure 19

Comparison of tensile steel results with expected yield stress ranges

Figure 20

Transverse floor and longitudinal girder number 3 at 6050mm off centre


line (including fillet weld connection) inside sea chest, frame number 84
starboard side prior to removal from the vessel

Figure 21

Macrophoto of specimen taken from sample removed from the sea chest
showing weld repair

Figure 22

Macrograph of specimen taken from sample removed from the starboard


sea chest showing detail of fatigue crack and repair

Figure 23

MSC Napoli aground in 2001

Figure 24

Extent of bottom damage

Figure 25

Waterlogged containers in hold

Figure 26

Comparison of DNV and BV load and capacity assessments

Figure 27

Comparison of wave bending moments

Figure 28

Keel section modulus

Figure 29

Frame 82

Table 1

Steel sample thickness measurements

Table 2

Distribution of the world container fleet by capacity and classification society

Table 3

Summary of buckling strength checks conducted by BMT SeaTech

Annex A

Control of the main engine

Annex B

Crew details

Annex C

Summary, recommendations, opinion and conclusions in respect of 21 samples


removed from the forward half of the container ship MV MSC Napoli

Annex D

Det Norske Veritas report on load and strength assessment

Annex E

Bureau Veritas report on load and strength assessment

Annex F

Executive summary of the University of Southamptons whipping calculations


on the MSC Napoli 2D hydroelasticity calculations

Annex G

BMT SeaTech buckling strength calculations

GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS


AB

Able Bodied seaman

BV

Bureau Veritas

CGM

Compagnie Gnrale Maritime

CROSS

Centre Regional Operationnel de Surveillance et de Sauvetage

DNV

Det Norske Veritas

DSC

Digital Selective Calling

ECR

Engine control room

EPIRB

Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon

FE

Finite element

GM

Metacentric height

GS

General Service

IACS

International Association of Classification Societies

ICS

International Chamber of Shipping

IMO

International Maritime Organization

ISM Code

International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships


and for Pollution Prevention

kW

Kilowatt

LR

Lloyds Register

MCA

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

MF

Medium Frequency

MNm

Mega Newton metre

MOU

Memorandum of Understanding

MRCC

Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre

MSC

Mediterranean Shipping Company

P&I

Protection and Indemnity

PMS

Planned Maintenance System

rpm

Revolutions per minute

SAR

Search and Rescue

SART

Search and Rescue Transponder

SHI

Samsung Heavy Industries

SMS

Safety Management System

SOLAS

International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea

SOSREP

Secretary of State Representative

STCW

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and


Watchkeeping incorporating the 1995 Amendments

TEU

Twenty foot equivalent unit (container size)

UTC

Universal co-ordinated time

VHF

Very High Frequency

All times in this report are UTC + 1 unless otherwise stated

SYNOPSIS
During the morning of 18 January 2007, when on passage in the English Channel, the
4419 TEU container ship MSC Napoli encountered heavy seas, causing the ship to pitch
heavily. The ship was making good a speed of 11 knots and the height of the waves was
up to 9m. At about 1105, the vessel suffered a catastrophic failure of her hull in way of her
engine room. The master quickly assessed the seriousness of the situation and decided to
abandon ship. Following the broadcast of a distress call at 1125, the 26 crew abandoned the
vessel in an enclosed lifeboat. They were later recovered by two Royal Navy helicopters.
There were no injuries.
MSC Napoli was subsequently taken under tow towards Portland, UK but, as the disabled
vessel approached the English coast, it became evident there was a severe risk she might
break up or sink, and she was intentionally beached in Branscombe Bay on 20 January 2007.
A number of containers were lost overboard when the vessel listed heavily after beaching.
The investigation has identified a number of factors which contributed to the failure of the hull
structure, including:
The vessels hull did not have sufficient buckling strength in way of the engine room.
The classification rules applicable at the time of the vessels construction did not
require buckling strength calculations to be undertaken beyond the vessels amidships
area.
There was no, or insufficient, safety margin between the hulls design loading and its
ultimate strength.
The load on the hull was likely to have been increased by whipping effect.
The ships speed was not reduced sufficiently in the heavy seas.
In view of the potential vulnerability of other container ships of a similar design, the MAIB
requested the major classification societies to conduct urgent checks on the buckling strength
of a number of ship designs. Over 1500 ships were screened, of which 12 vessels have been
identified as requiring remedial action; a further 10 vessels were identified as being borderline
and require more detailed investigation; and the screening of 8 container ships was still in
progress at the time of publication. Remedial action has either been completed, planned,
or is being arranged; where necessary, operational limitations have been agreed or strongly
advised until the remedial work has been completed.
Recommendations have been made to the International Association of Classification Societies,
which are intended to increase the requirements for container ship design, consolidate
current research into whipping effect, and to initiate research into the development and use
of technological aids for measuring hull stresses on container ships. Recommendations have
also been made to the International Chamber of Shipping with the aim of promoting best
practice within the container ship industry, and to Zodiac Maritime Agencies, with reference to
its safety management system.

Reproduced courtesy of FotoFlite

MSC Napoli

Section 1 - FACTUAL INFORMATION


1.1

Particulars of MSC Napoli and accident


Vessel details
Registered Owner

Metvale Limited

Registered Operator

Zodiac Maritime Agencies Limited

Port of registry

London

Flag

United Kingdom

Type

Container (4,419 TEU)

Built

1991 Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd Koje,


South Korea

Classification society

Det Norske Veritas (DNV) from 2002


Bureau Veritas (BV) 1991 2002

Class notation (BV)

1A1 DG-P EO

Length overall

275.66m

Breadth

38.18m

Gross tonnage

53,409

Engine power and type

38792kW Sulzer 10RTA84C

Service speed

24.10kts (when built)

Time and date

1102 LT 18 January 2007

Location of incident

Lat 49 19.8' N Long 004 34.8' W, 146


Lizard Point 45nm

Persons on board

26

Injuries/fatalities

None

Damage

Constructive total loss

Accident details

1.2

Background
MSC Napoli was built in 1991. She was originally named CGM Normandie and
registered in France. The vessels name was changed to Nedlloyd Normandie in 1995
and to CMA CGM Normandie in 2001. She was purchased by Metvale Limited in
September 2002 when her registration was also changed to the UK flag. The vessel
continued under charter to CMA/CGM until November 2004 when she was chartered by
Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and renamed MSC Napoli. Her initial trading
route with MSC was between the eastern Mediterranean and north west Europe, but
from November 2006 MSC Napoli plied between South Africa and northwest Europe; her
charter speed was 21.5kts.
The vessels port rotation was: Cape Town Port Elizabeth Durban Port Elizabeth
Cape Town Las Palmas Felixstowe Hamburg Antwerp Le Havre Sines Las
Palmas.
On 29 December 2006, MSC Napoli sailed from Cape Town at the start of her northbound voyage 4 days behind schedule. To save time, her charterer cancelled the
planned port calls at Hamburg and Le Havre and arranged for the cargo that was planned
to be loaded and discharged at those ports, to be transhipped at Antwerp instead.
When the vessel arrived at Felixstowe on the morning of 13 January 2007, she was 6
days behind her original schedule following the failure of one of her four main engine
turbochargers. A second main engine turbocharger failed during the passage between
Felixstowe and Antwerp; her main engine governor was also not operational1. All four
turbochargers were working when the vessel sailed from Antwerp, but the main engine
governor remained out of action. At the time of the accident, MSC Napoli was on
passage from Antwerp, Belgium to Sines, Portugal, with a crew of 262. Her ETA in Sines
was 1800 on 19 January 2007.

1.3

Narrative

1.3.1 Hull failure


MSC Napoli departed her berth in Antwerp at 0812 on 17 January 2007. After
disembarking her river pilot at 1521, the vessel passed through the Dover Strait before
transiting the English Channel during the early hours of the following morning. The
weather worsened overnight, and a deck log entry made during the 0400-0800 watch
stated Vessel rolling and pitching moderately, vessel pounding heavily at times.
Seaspray over focsle. By the time MSC Napoli was about 45 miles south east of the
Lizard Point in Cornwall, England (Figure 1), she was heading into storm force winds.
The vessel was occasionally pitching heavily into high seas but was no longer rolling
to any significant extent. Her course was 240 and her engine was at a speed which
normally resulted in a vessel speed of 17kts3. She was making good a speed of 11 knots
over the ground and her master was content with the vessels motion and considered that
there would be no damage caused to the forward containers.
1

Details of the control of the main engine are at Annex A.

Details of the crew are at Annex B.

Company instructions to the master stated Under no circumstances should the vessel be forced to
proceed in rough weather at speeds which could cause severe damage to the vessels structure and
engines and endanger the lives of the crew. Engine rpm shall be reduced to the extent that the vessel makes
headway without causing shuddering and excessive vibration.

Figure 1

Ships track as recorded by AIS (UTC)

Shortly after 1100, the ship encountered several large waves, which were described
as quite powerful strikes. One of the crew found it extremely difficult to stand in a
shower cubicle during this period due to the vessels movement. At about 1105 a loud
crashing or cracking sound was heard. At the same time, the third assistant engineer,
on watch in the engine control room (ECR), acknowledged an alarm indicating a high
level of fluid in the engine room bilge. This was immediately followed by further bilge
alarms and an engine room flood alarm.
The first assistant engineer quickly joined the third assistant engineer in the ECR. He
telephoned the chief engineer on the bridge and informed him of the situation, while
the third assistant engineer went to the bottom plates in the engine room to investigate
the cause of the alarms. On arrival, the third assistant engineer saw water spraying
from the general service (GS) pump delivery pipe just forward of the main engine. The
pump was not running and he quickly shut both its delivery and suction valves. This
stopped the water flow. The delivery pipe had sheared cleanly across, and the two
sections had separated by about 150mm. The third assistant engineer also saw a
large quantity of water sloshing from side to side under the engine room bottom plates.
As he started to return to the ECR, the tank top forward of the main engine appeared
to open up across the ship (Figure 2), and a wall of oily water shot upwards before
cascading down across the pump flat and bottom plates. The third engineer quickly
evacuated the area and returned to the ECR.

Figure 2

Tank top line of fracture

G.S. pump

Forward engine room arrangement showing fracture line

Following the call from the first assistant engineer, the chief engineer informed the
master that the engine room might be flooding. He then quickly made his way to the
ECR, where the third assistant engineer briefed him on what he had seen. The chief
engineer went down to the bottom plates to assess the situation. He saw a lot of water
swirling across the tank tops and under the bottom plates and, what appeared to be
cracks, in the tank top. He also saw what he thought was a large fracture in the side
shell plating on the starboard side close to the sea chest. Additionally, many of the

cooling pumps in the pump flat had stopped operating. The chief engineer stopped
the main engine before returning to the ECR, from where he informed the master of
the situation. Having concluded that the ship had suffered serious structural failure, he
then ordered all personnel to leave the engine room.
1.3.2 Abandonment
After talking to the chief engineer, the master went onto the starboard bridge wing from
where he could see that the ships side plating directly below the bridge was bulging
outwards. He also saw what appeared to be a vertical fracture below the waterline as
the ship rolled to port. When similar damage was seen on the port side, the master
assessed that MSC Napoli had broken her back (Figure 3), and decided to abandon
the vessel.
Reproduced courtesy of Marine Nationale

Figure 3

Hull fracture

MSC Napoli following the structural failure

A distress message was sent via MF DSC at 1125 and the crew started to assemble on
the bridge. A few minutes later, the vessel lost all electrical power. However, lighting
was soon restored when the ships emergency generator started automatically.
By now, the ship was stopped in the water, with her starboard side exposed to the wind
and sea. Consequently, the master sent the bosun and three of the crew to prepare
the port lifeboat for launch4. Others were sent to the provision locker to get cases of
bottled water. After all crew had been accounted for, the master sounded the

4 It was evident during the investigation that the master had placed a great deal of emphasis on the
importance of safety drills and the maintenance of lifesaving equipment, and that the preparation and
lowering of lifeboats had been well-practiced in accordance with company policy.

emergency alarm of seven long, and one short blasts on the ships whistle to indicate to
the crew to make their way to the lifeboat station. He then called Ushant Traffic on VHF
radio to advise that he and his crew were abandoning into the lifeboat.
The master and third officer were the last to enter the lifeboat, having collected the SART,
EPIRB and a number of the ships documents. The lifeboat engine had been started
and, following verbal confirmation from the chief officer that all 26 crew members were on
board, the master ordered the chief engineer to lower the lifeboat by hauling down on the
remote lowering wire.
The lifeboat smoothly descended the 16 metres to the sea. Once waterborne, the bosun
released the fore and aft falls from inside the lifeboat. However, the crewman sitting
nearest the forward painter release could not pull the release pin sufficiently far to allow
the painter to disengage. He was squeezed between two other crew and his movement
was restricted by his immersion suit. The painter was eventually cut by the chief
engineer, who had a knife, and was able to reach the painter via the lifeboats forward
hatch.
After clearing MSC Napoli, the lifeboat was manoeuvred to a position between 1 and
1 miles away from the stricken vessel. The master then activated the EPIRB and the
SART. The motion of the lifeboat was violent and the atmosphere in the lifeboat was
very uncomfortable; all of the crew suffered from sea sickness. Although the lifeboat
was certified to accommodate up to 32 persons, the 26 crew wearing immersion suits
and lifejackets were very cramped. They were very warm and several felt faint and
de-hydrated. The situation became more tolerable after the crew cut off the gloves from
their immersion suits with the chief engineers knife. This allowed them to use their
hands more effectively, and they were able to drink from plastic drinking water bottles
they had brought with them.
On receipt of the Mayday, CROSS Corsen initiated the assistance of a SAR helicopter
and a tug. When the crew abandoned, Falmouth MRCC was also requested to assist.
Falmouth MRCC activated two SAR helicopters, R193 and R194 (Figure 4).
The first helicopter arrived at the scene at 1150. Initially, a highline5 could not be passed
to the lifeboat due to the severe weather conditions. However, at about 1230, a diver
was lowered from R194 into the sea and swam to the lifeboat. A highline was rigged
and the helicopter crew recovered 13 survivors from the lifeboat. R193 took over the
winching operation at 1325, and by 1409 the remaining 13 survivors had been recovered.
1.3.3 Post-accident events
Following the successful abandonment of the vessel, MSC Napoli was taken in tow
to Portland, Dorset. A towline was connected (Figure 5) but, as the disabled vessel
approached the south coast of England, concern increased regarding her condition. In
order to prevent the vessel from breaking up or sinking at sea, she was beached in
Branscombe Bay on 20 January 2007 (Figure 6). A number of containers were lost
overboard when the vessel listed heavily after beaching.

A highline transfer is a method of lifting survivors from a confined area such as a lifeboat or liferaft into a
helicopter. The technique involves the attachment of a messenger to the helicopters winch hook to enable the
hook to be accurately controlled and positioned by the persons in the confined space.
5

During the following 5 months, most of the vessels fuel oil and the remaining
containers were removed. MSC Napoli was refloated on 9 July 2007, but it was soon
apparent that she was in a poor condition and she was re-beached 3 days later.
On 20 July 2007, the vessel was separated using explosive charges approximately in
way of where the hull had failed on 18 January 2007 (Figures 7 and 8). The forward
section was then towed to the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast for recycling. The
after section remains off Branscombe at the time this report was published.
Reproduced courtesy of Marine Nationale

Figure 4

Recovery of the crew

Figure 5

Reproduced courtesy of Marine Nationale

MSC Napoli under tow


Figure 6

MSC Napoli beached at Branscombe Bay

10

Figure 7

MSC Napoli - forward section


Figure 8

MSC Napoli - aft section

11

1.4

Environmental conditions
The wind was south west storm force 10 to 116. There was a swell running from the
south west and the wave height was estimated to have been between 5m and 9m. The
distance between successive wave peaks was 150m, with an interval of between 9 and
10 seconds. The charted depth of water was about 80m.
High water at Dover on 18 January was at 1120. The predicted tidal stream at 1120 is
shown at Figure 9. The tidal range was 60% of the spring range.
Reproduced by permission of the Controller of HMSO and the UK Hydrographic Office

Figure 9

Position of MSC Napoli at


time of structural failure

Tidal Stream Atlas for 1020 UTC

The following weather forecasts were issued by the U.K. Meteorological Office and
received on board MSC Napoli on 17 and 18 January:
At 1130 on 17 January
German Bight Humber Thames Dover Wight Portland
southwesterly 6 to gale 8 increasing severe gale 9, perhaps storm 10
later. rough or very rough, occasionally high in Portland later.
Rain. moderate or good
At 0015 on 18 January
Wight Portland Plymouth
southwesterly 6 or 7, increasing gale 8 to storm 10, perhaps violent
storm 11 later. Very rough becoming high. rain or showers. moderate,
occasionally poor
6 On the Beaufort scale, a wind strength of force 11 (violent storm) indicates the wind has a mean velocity of
between 56 knots and 63 knots (28.5-32.6m/s). In conjunction with the high wind speed, exceptionally high
waves with a probable height of up to 11.5m are possible.

12

At 0505 on 18 January
Wight Portland Plymouth
southwesterly 7 to severe gale 9, occasionally storm 10, perhaps
violent storm 11 later. Very rough or high rain or showers.
moderate, occasionally poor
The surface analysis chart for 1100 UTC on 18 January 2008 is shown at Figure 10.
Figure 10
CF FORM31A

11Z Thursday 18th Jan 07


14
01

994

12
2
99

935

-01

10

66

6988

990

6
98

2
98

4
98

0
98

64

12

976
88

990

4
98

07207 55.4N 12.4W 51.0N 13.4W


62105
62081
1
08 830
12 980
129
13
80
47
08
03
11
12
0909
1 15

-04

8
97

53.9N 8.7E
48.7N 12.5W 53.5N 19.4W 50.1N 6.1W
53.5N 8.6E
62108
DBBI
62029
62107
DBFR
42
14 070
09 868
13 983
08 795
07 807
6
31
1
115
06
05
08
12
12
12
11
12
07
0916
1018
1 13

00

98

01

2.0E
62170

978

97
6

722
02 01 0972
00B/16
S/10

971

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724
06

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02

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737
02

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04

26
04
00 0972
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SCALE OF NAUTICAL MILES
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CONTOUR
T E N U
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GEOSTROPHIC WIND SCALE
14 121
7 0
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N
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48

The Met Office


MSL PRESSURE (mb)

LDB 1135Z

11Z Thursday 18th Jan 07


DT 11Z 18/ 1/ 7
T+ 0 VT 11Z 18/ 1/ 7

Surface analysis for 1100 UTC

13

1.5

Loaded condition

1.5.1 On sailing Antwerp


It was intended that MSC Napoli would have a maximum draught of 13m on completion
of container operations at Antwerp to allow her to sail at any state of the tide. The
maximum permitted draught to leave the port was about 15m.
In an attempt to achieve the desired draught, various ballast configurations were input
to the vessels loading computer7 together with the planned distribution and weights of
the containers to be loaded. The only condition that enabled a maximum aft draught of
13m resulted in harbour and sea bending moments8 of about 88% and 116% (Figure
11) of their respective maxima. This condition, which required the ship to be ballasted
forward during the cargo operations, was approved by the master, on the basis that
the bending moments would be reduced to within the seagoing limit, by adjusting the
ballast configuration during the river transit towards the open sea. When loaded, it was
normal for the vessel to be in a hogged condition9.
Figure 11

Departure condition on leaving the berth in Antwerp

MSC Napoli departed Antwerp on 17 January with 2318 containers on board, of which
about 700 were stowed on deck. The ships draught on departure was 13m aft and
12.6m forward. After passing through the harbour locks at about 1000, the chief officer
adjusted the ballast during the passage down the river as planned. This action was

MSC Napoli was equipped with an Easecon version 4.01 loading computer. The computer was approved
by BV on 28 January 2000. When the ships classification was changed in 2002, DNV re-checked the
computer for accuracy against the vessels loading manual and issued a letter of approval on 21 June 2002.
Following the accident on 18 January, the loading computer was again checked for accuracy and found to
be correct.

8 Seagoing bending moments are 76% of harbour bending moments or still water bending moments. The
24% difference is the margin of safety required to allow for wave loading at sea.
9

14

Hogging is the stress a ship experiences that causes the center of the hull to bend upward.

completed by 1510 and had the effect of reducing the seagoing bending moments to
99% of the allowed maximum (Figure 12) and of increasing the draught aft to about
13.5 metres. The pilot was not informed of the changes in draught and trim.
Figure 12

Condition on leaving the River Schelde

To facilitate berthing at any state of the tide at Antwerp, the vessel had arrived at
the port on 120% of her maximum permissible seagoing bending moments. Data
recovered from the ships loading computer indicated that the vessel had arrived
or departed from berths or other ports on several occasions on up to 122% of her
maximum permissible seagoing bending moments.
1.5.2 Deadload10
Before sailing from Antwerp, the chief officer read the vessels draught marks forward,
amidships and aft from the dockside, after first ensuring the vessel was upright.
The draughts were then entered into the loading computer and the deadweight
corresponding to the recorded draughts was calculated and compared against the
calculated loaded deadweight. The deadload on departure from Antwerp (having used
a constant of 483MT to allow for known weights such as fuel, water ballast, spares etc)
was about 1250MT.
MSC Napoli often had large deadloads on completion of loading. In May and
June 2005 MSC arranged for two draught surveys to determine the cause of the
discrepancies, but no significant deadload was found on these occasions.

10 The deadload is the difference between a vessels deadweight calculated from her observed draught and
a vessels deadweight calculated from known weights such as cargo, fuels and water ballast. In theory, the
deadload should be the difference between the calculated or estimated weight of cargo and the actual cargo
on board, although other unknown weights such as accumulated mud in ballast tanks can also contribute.
There is no evidence to suggest that a significant amount of mud had accumulated in MSC Napolis ballast
tanks prior to her departure from Antwerp.

15

1.6

Vessel design and construction

1.6.1 Overview
MSC Napoli was designed and built by Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), South Korea
and was a post-panamax container ship, i.e. her beam was too great to enable her to
transit the Panama Canal. At the time of her construction, she was one of the largest
container ships to have been built. SHI based her design on the design of an existing
smaller vessel, but increased the breadth in order to increase the carrying capacity.
MSC Napoli had no sister vessels.
The vessel had seven cargo holds, with the engine room and accommodation block
situated at approximately 3/4L from forward between No 6 and No 7 holds (Figure
13). Containers were carried within the cargo holds and also above deck on the hatch
covers. The location of the engine room and accommodation block was not uncommon
for a container ship.
Figure 13

0.4L
MSC Napoli profile showing 0.4L amidships region and engine room

While the underwater hull form was relatively fine with a low block coefficient11, the deck
at the ends of the ship above water were wider in order to increase the stowage space
for deck containers, and resulted in moderately large bow and stern flare angles.
1.6.2 Hull framing
Forward of the engine room the hull was longitudinally framed, i.e. the shell plate was
reinforced by closely spaced stiffeners (longitudinals) which ran in the fore and aft
direction. Generally, the longitudinals were spaced at 870mm intervals in the bottom
structure and supported by transverse floors spaced a maximum of 3200mm apart.

The shape of a hull is often expressed in terms of measured ratios, known as hull coefficients, which
compare the immersed section of a hull shape to that of rectangular shapes of the same overall dimensions.
The block coefficient (Cb) is the principal measure of a vessels underwater hull form. The block coefficient
of MSC Napoli was 0.609 whereas the block coefficient of an oil tanker would typically be about 0.9.

11

16

Aft of the engine room forward bulkhead (frame 88) the bottom structure and lower
portion of the side shell up to the 4th deck (9620mm above base) changed to being
transversely framed with plate floors spaced at 800mm (Figure 14). There was an area
of framing transition in the bottom structure aft of frame 88 where longitudinals from the
cargo hold region continued aft for a short distance before termination or replacement
by intercostal stiffeners.
Figure 14

Extract of shell expansion drawing

Additional structural changes occurring in way of the engine room and accommodation
block included the reduction in thickness from 44mm to 36mm of the upper deck plate,
the reduction in depth and thickness of the hatch coaming, and the discontinuation of
wing tanks.

17

1.6.3 Material
Three grades of steel were used in the construction of the vessels hull:
Mild steel (Grade A) with a minimum yield stress12 of 235 N/mm2.
High tensile steel (Grades AH/DH) with a minimum yield stress of 315 N/mm2.
High tensile steel (Grades AH36/EH36) with a minimum yield stress
of 355 Nmm2.
Grades AH/DH were generally used in areas of higher stress although AH36/EH36 was
used to a very limited extent in some areas such as the hatch coaming. Mild steel was
used in all other areas.
1.6.4 Bureau Veritas rules and calculations
The contract for the construction of CGM Normandie was signed on 12 December
1989, and her keel (hull No. 1082) was laid on 1 April 1991. The classification
society used during the vessels construction was Bureau Veritas (BV). The role of a
classification society during a vessels design and construction is to establish and apply
the technical requirements detailed in the societys published rules. This is achieved by
scrutiny of the design specification and by regular site survey and inspection throughout
the building of a vessel. Certificates of classification are issued on delivery following
successful plan approval and survey. Part II of the societys rules regarding hull
structure applied during the vessels design and construction, included:
3-14.11. Scantlings13 are given for the midship region and the end regions...
In the intermediate regions, scantlings are to vary gradually from the midship
region to the end regions.
BVs rules also specified the buckling criteria which was to be used to assess hull
scantlings, but these criteria were only applicable to 0.2L14 either side of a vessels
midships (frames 102 to 232 on MSC Napoli) (Figure 13). No buckling calculations
were required to be undertaken in way of the engine room.
A report on the 3-D Stress Analysis of the Hold Structure for CGM Normandie was
produced by BV in 1990. The analysis covered the central cargo hold region (frames
156 to 202 in Nos. 4 and 5 holds); it did not consider the structure in way of the engine
room. The scope of this analysis complied with the applicable BV rules at the time
of build, which required direct calculation (i.e. Finite Element Analysis) of the primary
members in the hold space. When the vessels classification was changed from BV to
DNV in 2002, a reassessment of the hull scantlings was not undertaken. Both societies

12 The

yield strength or yield point of a material is defined in engineering and materials science as the stress
at which a material begins to deform plastically. Prior to the yield point the material will deform elastically
and will return to its original shape when the applied stress is removed. Once the yield point is passed,
some fraction of the deformation will be permanent and non-reversible.

13 Scantling refers to the collective dimensions of a vessels framing and structural supports. The word is
most often used in the plural to describe how much structural strength in the form of girders, I-beams, etc. is
in a given section.
14

18

0.2L is the fraction of a vessels length overall.

are members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS)15 in


which the rules of the member societies are mutually accepted. Therefore, DNV was
not obliged to reassess MSC Napolis hull scantlings against its own rules.

1.7

Hull condition

1.7.1 Survey
The MAIB completed a number of internal and external surveys of MSC Napoli while
she was beached at Branscombe Bay. Dive and on board surveys indicated that the
hull fracture on the starboard side of the ship extended from the bottom hull plating at
frame 82, upwards and forwards to frame 88 via the sea chest area (Figure 15).
Figure 15

Fracture line

Path of fracture line established during dive surveys

15 Other classification societies which are members of IACS are: American Bureau of Shipping, China Class
Society, Germanischer Lloyd, Lloyds Register, Nippon Kaiji, Registrano Italiano, Russian Register and the
South Korean Register.

19

There was no indication of any damage to the bow area, or the forward-most
containers. Once the forward section of the hull had been detached and taken to the
Harland and Wolff dry dock (Figures 16-18), it was possible to perform a more detailed
inspection of the fracture, which confirmed the earlier indications with respect to the
path of the failure.
The inspections in Belfast were able to confirm that the vessel had been built in
accordance with the ships drawings. It was established that not all longitudinal girders
in the double bottom were continuous in the area of the failure. While the port side
girders were continuous, the centreline and starboard side girders were intercostal
between floors. In addition, it was noted that there were fractures through the throats
of fillet welds at the sites of discontinuous longitudinal girders, while the continuous
girders had generally failed mid frame.
1.7.2 Material tests
Eighteen samples of steel were removed from the fracture path by the MAIB. A further
three samples were removed from immediately forward of the fracture path on behalf of
the vessels charterers. All of the samples were sent to the Test House, Cambridge, for
analysis. A summary report of this analysis is at Annex C. The Test House concluded:
the vessels failure was not attributable to any identifiable material or
metallurgical deficiencies or issues and that steel work was thought to have
been in good order, in terms of freedom from both corrosion wastage and
significant cracking, at the time of the casualty. [sic]
Figure 16

Forward section of hull in Belfast dock

20

Figure 17

Localised plate buckling - port sea chest


Figure 18

Starboard side hull collapse near lower sea chests

21

The main findings of the material tests on the 18 samples removed from the fracture
path were:
Steel Grades
The grades of steel used in the construction were generally as specified in the
vessels drawings, or of higher grade (Figure 19). The only sample that did not
meet the required properties was the centreline girder, where mild steel (Grade A)
was used instead of high tensile steel (AH32).
Figure 19
Sample Tensile Tests
0.2% Proof Stress
450
Upper Yield Stress

400

Mean Yield Stress

350

Lower Yield Stress

Mean Yield Stress

SSB12 - Side Shell

PSS1 - Side Shell

50

PBS8 - Centreline Girder

100

STT9 - Tank Top

PTFL3 - Tank Top

150

PBS8 - Bottom Shell

200

Longitudinal Girder

Lower Yield Stress

250
PTFL3 - Longitudinal Girder

Stress (MPa)

Upper Yield Stress


300

Sample ID and Description

Comparison of tensile steel results with expected yield stress ranges

Weld sizes
A number of fillet welds were found to be marginally under the specified minimum
size. However, the cross cruciform joint strength was found to be significantly
stronger than expected from shipyard construction fillet welding and would have
potentially negated any shortfalls in weld size.
Corrosion
Thickness measurements taken on the steel samples using a calibrated digital
vernier indicated minimal corrosion of structure in way of the failure (Table 1). The
results support surveys conducted by BV and DNV during the service life of the
vessel and visual observations during the hull inspection.

22

Table 1
Sample
ID
PSS1
PTF2
PTFL3

PTFL4

CL5
CLTT6
STL7
PBS8
STT9
SSB10
STL11

Lower Side Shell

Measured
Thickness
(mm)
17.6

Specified
Thickness
(mm)
18

Upper Side Shell

18.6

18

Item

Diminution
(mm)

Diminution
(%)

0.4

2.2%

-0.6

-3.3%

Transverse Floor

19.3

19

-0.3

-1.6%

Tank Top

19.7

19

-0.7

-3.7%

Longitudinal Girder

20.0

19

-1

-5.3%

Transverse Floor

19.4

19

-0.4

-2.1%

Transverse Floor

15.8

15

-0.8

-5.3%

Longitudinal Girder

24.3

25

0.7

2.8%

Tank Top

15.1

15

-0.1

-0.7%

Transverse Floor

14.1

15

0.9

6.0%

Longitudinal Girder

15.0

15

0.0%

Tank Top

14.9

15

0.1

0.7%

Transverse Floor

14.7

15

0.3

2.0%

Longitudinal Girder

24.7

25

0.3

1.2%

Bottom Shell

18.1

18

-0.1

-0.6%

Tank Top Stbd Side

19.3

19

-0.3

-1.6%

Tank Top Port Side

15.0

15

0.0%

Bottom Shell

18.4

18

-0.4

-2.2%

Transverse Floor

15.1

15

-0.1

-0.7%

Longitudinal Girder

19.2

19

-0.2

-1.1%

SSB12

Side Shell

18.0

18

0.0%

P13

Tank Top

19.0

19

0.0%

S14

Tank Top

19.1

19

-0.1

-0.5%

-0.1

-0.6%

Average
Sample
hic thickness
ness Measurements
Steel
sample
measurements

1.7.3 Post-build repairs to welds


Three of the steel samples showed evidence consistent with repairs or joint
repositioning being completed when the ship was in service. One of these samples
(STL11), which was taken from the connection between a transverse floor and
longitudinal girder number 3 at 6050mm off the ships centre line inside the starboard
sea chest at frame 84 (Figure 20), exhibited evidence that at least one of the four fillet
welds forming the cruciform joint (Figures 21 and 22) had been repaired. With regard
to this sample, the Test House report (Annex C) concluded Piece STL11 exhibited a
fatigue crack that had initiated from a region of weld metal exhibiting pre-existing centre
bead segregation, or liquation type hot cracking. The lower fatigue portion of the crack,
by contrast, contained an in situ corrosion product consistent with its formation in a
Repo environment.
. C1
0 Collectively,
(Dra t)
Tech L d 2008
marine
the evidence suggests M
that ae solidification
defect had
been present in the throat of the original construction weld. The crack had grown by a
mechanism of fatigue and had been open to the elements, during which time the lower
crack regions had suffered corrosion. The crack had then been partly excavated and a
capping weld run applied over the previously open and corroded crack.

23

Figure 20

Transverse floor and longitudinal girder number 3 at 6050mm off centre line (including fillet weld
connection) inside sea chest, frame number 84 starboard side prior to removal from the vessel
Figure 21

Macrophoto of specimen taken from sample removed from the sea chest showing weld repair

24

Figure 22

Macrograph of specimen taken from sample removed from the


starboard sea chest showing detail of fatigue crack and repair

It was not possible from the metallurgical evidence available to determine when the
repairs were conducted, and no record could be found of any welding repairs to the
ships main structural girders in way of her engine room.
1.7.4 Previous damage
During a routine dry docking in January 2001, the vessels starboard side hull plating
was indented following misalignment of the blocks. Permanent repairs were completed
in March 2001. In April 2001 the vessel ran aground at full sea speed in the Malacca
Straits (Figure 23). Material damage was caused to the bottom plating and internal
structures from the bow to frame 210 (Figure 24). Cargo holds No. 1 to No. 4, the
bulbous bow, the fore peak tank, No. 1 deep tank and the bow thrusters room were all
flooded. The vessel was aground for 60 days while cargo was removed. She was then
towed to Vietnam, where approximately 90m of the forward section of the vessel (bow
to frame 212) from the keel to the summer load line (15m) was replaced. This required
3000 tonnes of steel.
The ship returned to service in October 2001 but landed heavily onto a berth in Jeddah
in December 2001, which resulted in fractures and indents to the port side of her hull in
way of No. 4 and No. 5 fuel oil tanks. Following hull survey and provisional repairs, the
ship was able to continue in service.
The vessel grounded again in August 2002 in Jeddah, but damage was limited to
scoring of the underside hull coating.

25

Figure 23

MSC Napoli (formerly CMA CGM Normandie) aground in 2001


Figure 24

Extent of bottom damage

1.8

Classification rule developments


Since MSC Napoli was built, IACS has updated its rules regarding structural
requirements and the loads applied to a ships hull. For steel ships greater than 90m
in unrestricted service, the hull girder strength requirements have been common to
all IACS members since 1992 (Unified Requirement S1116 Longitudinal Strength
Standard). However, S11 only requires bending strength to be calculated for the
0.4L midships region; S11 specifies that bending strength outside this region may be
determined at the discretion of the relevant classification society. S11 also specifies the
requirements for the calculation of buckling strength of plate panels and longitudinals
which are subject to hull girder bending and shear forces in the amidships region.

16 Subject to the ratification by the governing body of each member society, Unified Requirements are
incorporated into the rules and practices of those societies. Unified Requirements are minimum requirements; each member society remains free to set more stringent requirements.

26

As computing power has developed, the degree to which structural designs for new
buildings is analysed has also increased, albeit each classification society has, to
date, set its own requirement in this area. For example, it is now quite usual for global
strength to be assessed using a mathematical model of the entire hull, rather than the
central cargo holds within the 0.4L range defined by S11. Similarly, most classification
societies now routinely check the ability of the bottom shell and inner bottom plating to
resist buckling forces at areas outside of the 0.4L range.

1.9

Load and strength assessments

1.9.1 DNV
Following the loss of MSC Napoli, DNV conducted a load and strength assessment of
the vessels hull structure (Annex D). The analysis comprised three main elements:
hydrodynamic wave load analysis; global finite element (FE) analysis of the entire
hull with a standard mesh model in the engine room region (frames 64 to 106), and;
advanced non-linear stress and ultimate capacity analysis using a finer mesh between
frames 79 and 92. The objective of the assessment was to provide a probable load
range for the vertical bending moment and shear force in way of the forward engine
room bulkhead (frame 88) and the corresponding structural hull capacity range.
To estimate the wave load range, two sets of environmental parameters (wave height,
wave interval, vessel heading, vessel speed, water depth, wave spectra and wave
spread) were used to give a high and a low case. Both cases were considered
relevant to the conditions experienced. The resultant calculated load range was
3400MNm to 4300MNm.
The basis and main assumptions for the linear and non-linear FE models were: as built
dimensions of scantlings were used; no margins for corrosion were deducted; the model
was constructed in accordance with the vessels drawings, and; normal fabrication
tolerances were represented by geometrical imperfections. A capacity range was
achieved by using the lower and upper yield strengths of the three steel grades used in
the vessels construction. The resultant capacity range was 4200MNm to 4950MNm.
1.9.2 BV
In parallel, BV conducted a load and capacity assessment in way of MSC Napolis
forward engine room bulkhead (frame 88) (Annex E). Two sets of environmental
parameters were used which were considered to be relevant to the conditions
experienced. The resultant calculated load range was 3650MNm to 4170MNm. The
society also calculated the total bending moment at frame 88 in accordance with the
requirements of the current UR S11 to be 4220MNm.
The FE model developed by BV to determine the vessels ultimate capacity at
frame 88 incorporated frames 79 to 92 from the ships bottom to the first deck of the
accommodation on the port side only. Geometrical symmetry was assumed for the
starboard side of the vessel. A capacity range was achieved by using the upper and
lower yield strengths of two of the steel grades used in the vessels construction. The
highest grade of steel was not used due to its limited use in the area of failure. In this
model, global collapse occurred between 4600MNm to 4700MNm.

27

1.10 SLAMMING AND HULL WHIPPING


Slamming occurs when a ships hull impacts heavily with the water surface. There
are two types of bow slamming: bottom slamming, where the ships bottom emerges
from the water and undergoes a severe impact on re-entry; and bow flare slamming,
when the upper flared part of the bow is forced deeper into the wave. Stern slamming
can also occur where there is large flare in the aft hull. Both bow and stern slamming
give rise to a sudden vertical deceleration at the bow or stern, and lead to a flexural
vibration of the hull girder, known as whipping.
A whipping event starts when a ship is in a sagged condition17 and slams into a wave.
The hull girder whipping response does not decay quickly and therefore contributes
to a subsequent hogging bending moment. Whipping response on container ships
has been monitored on actual ships and model tests. The results indicate that the
additional wave load is typically between 10% and 50%. A 2D analysis of whipping
effect included in the BV load assessment (Annex E) concluded that the effect
increased wave bending moments for MSC Napoli by 30%.
The University of Southampton also assessed the possible contribution of whipping
to the wave loading experienced by MSC Napoli. The university performed 2D
hydroelasticity calculations to determine the bending moments and shear forces arising
due to the vessels movement into head seas. However, the university was only able to
effectively model bottom slamming. The universitys summary of its study is at Annex
F and included:
Within the limitations of the 2D investigation carried out, the bending moment,
shear force and stresses due to whipping are not considered significant enough
to influence the structural failure in way of frames 82 and 88. However, during
the investigations it was observed, with or without the inclusion of slamming,
that the keel stresses in the vicinity of the aft quarter, namely frames 82 and 88,
can be as large as the keel stresses amidships. This is an issue of concern to
us, irrespective of the effects of whipping.
Whipping was not included in the DNV analysis (Annex D) because it considered that
the required software to analyse the effect has not yet been developed due to the
complexity and unpredictable nature of the phenomenon.
In view of the highly technical and specialised requirements of this investigation, MAIB
engaged the expertise of BMT SeaTech Ltd to provide an independent assessment of
the various reports and analyses, and to assist with the analysis of the technical factors
considered in Section 2 of this report.

1.11 Container audit


There is no requirement for containers to be weighed at a port in Europe prior to being
loaded onto a vessel. The weight of each individual container is declared by the packer
or shipper, and this declared weight is used until it reaches its final destination. All
of MSC Napolis containers were weighed when they were removed from the vessel
in Branscombe. Almost all the containers loaded below decks had been submerged
below water due to internal flooding within the holds (Figure 25), and their weights
therefore differed significantly from the declared weights listed on the cargo manifests
17 Sagging is the stress a ships hull or keel is placed under when a wave is the same length as the ship
and the ship is in the trough of two waves. This causes the middle of the ship to bend down slightly.

28

due to water absorption. About 660 containers stowed on deck, which had remained
dry, were also weighed. The weights of 137 (20%) of these containers were more than
3 tonnes different from their declared weights. The largest single difference was 20
tonnes, and the total weight of the 137 containers was 312 tonnes heavier than on the
cargo manifest.
During the removal of the containers, the positions of 700 containers on deck were
compared with the positions recorded by the terminal operator (i.e. the positions entered
into the loading computer to determine the stability condition). Of these units, 53 (7%)
were in either the wrong position or declared as the wrong container. It is generally
agreed within the container industry that up to 10% of containers loaded onto a vessel
might not be in their planned positions.
Figure 25

Waterlogged containers in hold

1.12 Container ship industry


1.12.1 Growth
The first ship to carry containers plied between Port Newark and Houston in the USA
in 1956. The first international voyage of a container ship was in 1966 between Port
Elizabeth, USA and Rotterdam, Netherlands. By the late 1960s, the container shipping
industry had become established and grew exponentially throughout the 1970s and
1980s. By 1983 the world container industry transported the equivalent of 12 million

29

TEUs and continued to expand. Over the last 5 years, the volume of loaded
containers shipped has grown on average 10% each year. Today, most of the worlds
manufactured goods are carried in containers, and the equivalent of about 141 million
TEU was transported by sea in 2007.
1.12.2 Advantages
The growth of the container ship industry, and its pivotal role in the worldwide
intermodal system of transportation, has been due to a number of advantages
that containers and container ships have over more traditional methods of sea
transportation. In particular, a modern container ship has a monthly capacity of
between 3 and 6 times more than a conventional cargo ship. This is primarily due
to transhipment times. On average it takes between 10 and 20 hours to unload
1000 TEUs compared to 70 and 100 hours for a similar quantity of bulk freight. As a
consequence, typical port turnaround times have reduced significantly following the
introduction of containerisation. In addition, container ships are on average 35% faster
than conventional freight ships (19 knots versus 14 knots).
1.12.3 Container ship design
Historically, most vessel types such as general cargo ships and early tankers had
engine rooms positioned amidships. However, as the length of vessels increased,
the position of the engine room was moved to the aft end. This also required a
corresponding increase in their longitudinal strength.
The design of container ships evolved in parallel with the growth of the container
industry and liner services. The size of these ships also increased but, unlike many
other ship types, they retained a slender hull form and were equipped with large
engines to enable them to cover long distances at a fast speed. Due to the fine lines
aft, the engine room on container ships was increasingly positioned further forward.
Towards the end of the 1980s, orders for ships of post-Panamax size of around 4000
TEU were placed with a number of shipyards. Today, the largest container ships have
a capacity of about 12000 TEU, are over 400m in length and are typically powered by
engines with power in excess of 100,000hp. The increase in size has been due to the
economies of scale the larger vessels provide. A 5000 TEU container ship generally
has operating costs per container 50% lower than a 2500 TEU vessel and the increase
from 4000 TEU to 12000 TEU reduces the operating costs per container by about 20%.
1.12.4 World fleet
As of October 2007, the global fully cellular container vessel fleet stood at 4,178
vessels with more than 1400 on order. The average age of the world fleet was 11
years, but more than 1000 vessels were greater than 20 years old. No container ships
were scrapped in 2005, and only 17 ships were scrapped between 2006 and 2007.
The typical lifespan of a container ship is approximately 26 years.
Details of the world container ship fleet by TEU, and classification society are shown in
Table 2.

30

American Bureau of Shipping


Biro Klass Indonesia
Bulgarski Koraben Registar
Bureau Veritas
China Class Society
China Corp Register
Det Norske Veritas
Germanischer Lloyd
Hellenic Register
Indian Register
Korea Class Society
Lloyds Register
Nippon Kaiji
Registro taliano
Rinave Portugesa
Russian Register
South Korean Register
Turk Loydu
Vietnamese Register
(blank)
Grand Total

31

<1000

58
50
3
62
104
11
20
555
2
2
2
93
116
6
1
23
71
2
3
118
1302

37
10
1
50
443

91
80
17

12

26
843

87
42
17
33
749

1
85
187
6

5
36

46
1456

61
622

23

137
56

18
16
10
61
164

11
309

11

22
37

27
13
3
18
108

23
214

11

55
47

63

63

16

24
191

10

24
7

1
78

13
5

76

14
18

40

4
20

15

18

15

Distribution of the world container fleet by capacity and classification society

12
412

74
38
5

18
9
7
20
179

41
65

16

32
40

1000 - 20002000 - 30003000 - 40004000 - 50005000 - 60006000 - 70007000 - 80008000 - 90009000 - 10000 10000 - 11000 11000 - 12000 12000 - 13000 13000 - 14000 14200
160
76
50
76
59
7
40
29
8
2

1
1

(blank)

Grand Total
567
54
3
289
5
204
49
2
205
1
2424
2
2
3
7
624
586
34
1
28
174
2
3
21
420
42
5674
4
2

Table 2

Section 2 - ANALYSIS
2.1

Aim
The purpose of the analysis is to determine the contributory causes and circumstances
of the accident as a basis for making recommendations to prevent similar accidents
occurring in the future.

2.2

Similar accidents
The only other recorded catastrophic failure of a container ship hull structure occurred
in 1997. MSC Carla broke in half in the North Atlantic with 1600 containers on board.
Although her forward section sank, her aft section was recovered. Inspection of the
aft section indicated that the hull fracture had followed a welded seam joining a new
section of hull which had been inserted after build to increase the vessels length.

2.3

Structural analyses
The load and strength assessment conducted by DNV (Annex D) investigated the
ultimate structural hull capacity using non-linear finite element modelling. The level of
modelling undertaken was considerably more advanced than that typically performed
during the structural design process, and was necessary to accurately represent the
collapse of the hull.
In view of the findings of the material tests (paragraph 1.7.2 and Annex C), the
assessments use of as-built scantlings is considered to be valid. Its inclusion of
small geometrical imperfections in the hull shell and tank top areas corresponding
to normal fabrication and tolerance levels is also considered appropriate in order to
accurately model the onset of collapse. Without these imperfections, the model would
reflect an ideal structure with a capacity in excess of what would practically have been
achievable.
The ultimate strength analysis undertaken by BV also used FE modelling, albeit on a
smaller scale, but included some local detail not taken into account in the DNV model,
which conversely included scattered geometrical imperfections not used in the BV
model. Consequently, although the DNV and BV models simulated the path of the
failure of the hull structure in way of frames 82 and 88 using similar, but not identical,
wave loading parameters, the total load and capacity ranges of the two analyses
differed to some extent (Figure 26).
The DNV model indicates there was no margin between the maximum vertical bending
moments experienced at the time of the failure and the design capacity of the hull
structure. The BV analysis indicates the margin between the two values was about
430MNm. However, this margin was removed when whipping effect was taken into
account.
To determine the factors which contributed to the failure of the hull structure, it is
necessary to examine and compare the loads experienced at the time, to the maximum
loads allowed for in the vessels design and the ultimate capacity of the vessel.

32

Figure 26

DNV

Load 3400 - 4300

Capacity 4200 - 4950

BV

Load 3650 - 4170

Capacity 4600 - 4700

2000

2500

3000

3500

4000
MNm

4500

5000

5500

6000

Comparison of DNV and BV load and capacity assessments

2.4

Loading

2.4.1 General
The loads acting on the hull of MSC Napoli at the time of the failure can be classified
according to how they vary with time: static, slowly varying and rapidly varying. The
static (or essentially static) loads were the still water loads due to the weight of the hull,
cargo and consumables, and the buoyancy. Slow varying loads included wave pressure
loads on the hull due to the combination of wave encounter and resulting ship motion.
Rapid varying loads can occur as a result of slamming, where the hull impacts severely
with the waters surface.
2.4.2 Static loading condition
The still water loading condition applicable at the time of the hull failure produced a
hogging bending moment at the engine room bulkhead (frame 88) of 2243MNm. This
was 98.9% of the vessels seagoing limit (Figure 12). Shear forces and torsional
moments were also within acceptable limits.
Although the discrepancies in the weight and distribution of the containers (paragraph
1.11) would have adversely affected the vessels still water bending moment, particularly
if the additional weight was concentrated towards the vessels bow and stern, there
were insufficient dry containers to establish the likely deviation in still water bending
moment with any confidence. However, the additional weight carried probably

33

equated to the vessels deadload, and the resulting deviation to the still water bending
moment would have been extremely small in comparison to the potential variability of
the wave loading. Therefore, the effect of the discrepancies alone would have been
insufficient to cause hull failure. Nevertheless, they would have contributed to the
reduction of the safety margin available.
2.4.3 Wave loading
Assessing the sea conditions at the time of the accident is subject to considerable
uncertainty. As part of its load and strength assessment, DNV consulted a variety of
sources to identify the range of possible sea conditions experienced by the vessel
on 18 January 2007. The parameters used to model the wave loading such as the
significant wave heights, wave spectra, wave lengths and water depth were selected
to replicate the actual conditions experienced. These parameters have been reviewed
separately by BMT SeaTech, which has concluded they are the most accurate possible
in the absence of definitive information on the actual conditions.
A comparison of the high and low wave loading cases used by DNV, the load range
calculated by BV, the wave bending moments at frame 88 calculated in accordance
with the BV rules applicable at the time of build (10-8 probability level), and the current
IACS UR S11 requirement is shown at Figure 27. Although this comparison is
simplistic and the results cannot be considered in isolation, it does indicate that the
high DNV case and the upper end of the BV range were very close to the design
bending moment required by the societys rule and the current IACS requirement.
However, although the vertical wave bending moment acting on the hull at the time of
the accident was potentially very high, it was unlikely to have appreciably exceeded
either of the design values. Therefore, the waves encountered were within the bounds
of normal wave theory; they were not freak waves.
Figure 27
Extreme value distribution

x 10-3

Probability Density Function

3.5

Case 2 Low

3
Case 1 High

2.5

BV 87 Rule
IACS UR S11 Rule
BV Analysis

2
1.5
1
0.5
0

1000

2000
DNV 90%
Confidence
Interval

3000

4000

5000

Vertical bending moment (MNm)

Comparison of wave bending moments

34

6000

2.4.4 Slamming and hull whipping


It is likely that the hull of MSC Napoli was subjected to additional load due to whipping.
First, the vessel impacted with several large waves immediately before the failure of
her hull. Second, she was built with moderately large bow and stern flare angles.
Finally, empirical data indicates that whipping effect can typically increase wave bending
moments on container ships from between 10% and 50%. Any increase in the wave
bending moment above the normal design level would inevitably erode the margin
between loading and hull strength.
However, from the different results obtained from the 2D analyses conducted by BV,
which calculated a 30% increase in wave loading, and by Southampton University,
which concluded that the increase in wave loading was not significant, it is apparent
that whipping effect is currently very difficult to reliably calculate or model. Classification
societies are therefore unable to predict its magnitude or effect on a ships structure,
with any confidence, and as a consequence they are not generally calculated during the
structural design process.
In view of the potential increase in wave loading due to whipping effect, further research
is required by classification societies to ensure that the effect is adequately accounted
for in ship design and structural analyses, and that sufficient allowance is made for the
effect when determining design margins.

2.5

Vessel capacity (strength)

2.5.1 Keel section modulus18 distribution


As detailed in paragraph 1.6.2 the structural framing of MSC Napoli changed
significantly between the cargo hold section and the engine room. This, and other
factors such as the reduction in depth of the hatch coaming and the discontinuation
of the wing tanks, combined to reduce the strength of the hull in this region. This
reduction in strength is demonstrated by the longitudinal distribution of the keel section
modulus in Figure 28. It is recognised that this figure is simplistic in that it does not
accurately represent the continuity of the longitudinal structural members along the
vessels entire length. However, it is considered to be accurate within the region
between the area of failure and amidships.
2.5.2 Buckling strength requirement
At the time MSC Napoli was built, her fine lines and resulting low block coefficient
required her engine room to be further forward than most of the other ships being
built at that time. However, because it was outside of the 0.4L amidships area, the
applicable classification society rules did not require the buckling strength of the hull
in this area to be checked. As a result, no calculations were made by either the ship
builder or BV.

18 Section modulus is a measure of the relative strength (and resistance to bending) of a structural element,
dependent on its cross sectional shape, thickness and orientation). In simple terms, it indicates the bending
strength of a ships hull.

35

Section Modulus (m3)

Figure 28

x/L

Keel section modulus

For a ship structure that maintains the same structural configuration over the majority
of its length, the requirement to vary scantlings gradually from the amidships region to
the end regions will give a gradual reduction in buckling strength outside the amidships
region. This reduction in strength complements the usual reduction in global bending
loads outside the amidships region. However, this assumption was not valid on MSC
Napoli where there was a change in structural configuration from longitudinal framing
amidships to transverse framing in the engine room where the hull stresses were
almost as great as at her amidships region. The transverse framing in the engine room
of MSC Napoli was an inherently weak structure under compressive loading.
2.5.3 Buckling strength assessment
The DNV assessment identified the mode of failure on the hull structure of MSC Napoli
as a localised plate buckling. The failure mechanism started as elastic buckling of the
hull shell plating in the bilge area in way of frames 82 to 88, which progressed into
the bottom, double bottom and up into the ships side. This path is consistent with the
damage observed during inspection of the vessels forward section in Belfast (Figure
16).

36

To assess the buckling strength of the hull in the engine room, BMT SeaTech used the
formulas specified in the 1987 BV rules (Part II, Chapter 3, Section 3-7), and also the
current IACS Unified Requirement S11 (rev.5). It is acknowledged that the BV buckling
criteria applied only to the amidships region and were intended for regular flat panels
and not for complex box and curved structure, which are inherently more resistant
to buckling, such as between frames 80 and 85. The UR S11 requirements for the
assessment of buckling strength apply only to plate panels and longitudinals subject
to hull girder stresses in the 0.4L amidships region. UR S11 was not applicable at the
time of the MSC Napolis design and construction.
The buckling strength calculations undertaken by BMT SeaTech (Annex G) are
summarised in Table 3. The results are presented in terms of utilisation, which
indicates how much of the panels buckling
been used
MS capacity
N po i has
Struct
al F Tor meet
I v sthe
i
buckling criteria, the utilisation should be less than 1.
Table 3

Utilisation
Item

BV Rules
(1987)

IACS
URS11

Bottom Shell between CL girder and girder 1210 off CL

1.1

1.0

Bottom Shell between girders 1210 and 2605 off CL

0.8

0.8

Bottom Shell between girders 2605 and 6050 off CL

1.4

1.2

Bottom Shell between girder 6050 off CL and tank top

1.5

1.3

Side Shell between tank top and bhd 11270 off CL

1.2

1.0

Tank Top between CL girder and girder 1210 off CL

1.3

1.1

Tank Top between girders 1210 and 2605 off CL

0.9

0.9

Tank Top between girders 2605 and 6050 off CL

1.7

1.5

Tank Top between girders 6050 off CL and side shell

1.1

1.0

Summary of buckling strength checks conducted by BMT SeaTech

Similar results were obtained for the two sets of rules. A number of panels in the
tank top, bottom and lower side structure in the region of frame 82 were found to be
deficient (Figure 29). Other panels, although passing the buckling checks, were close
to the buckling criteria. Consequently, it is likely that when the vessels hull girder
strength was reduced due to the buckling of the weaker panels, the remaining structure
had insufficient margin to withstand the increased load. This failure mechanism is
consistent with the failure mechanism identified in the FE analyses.

37

Figure 29

Frame 82

2.5.4 Hull construction and condition


2.5.4.1 Materials
The strength of the hull of MSC Napoli at the time of its failure would have been
dependent on whether the hull was constructed in accordance with the design drawings
and any deterioration over the lifetime of the ship. The material tests conducted on the
18 samples removed from the fracture path identified a number of minor deficiencies,
which are not considered to have adversely affected the strength of the hull.
In particular, the centreline girder was made of mild steel (A) rather than high tensile
steel (AH32) and its yield strength was therefore inadequate. However, as its ultimate
tensile strength met the requirements of AH32, it is considered that its use would not
lead to a significant reduction in the ultimate collapse moment of the hull girder.
A number of weld sizes were also marginally under size and a number of fractures
through fillet welds were evident. However, structural analysis of the hull indicates
that the longitudinal girders had a higher buckling strength relative to the tank top and
shell plates. Therefore, it is highly probable that the girders failed as a result of being
placed under additional load following the initial buckling of bottom and tank top plating,
irrespective of their continuity and weld sizes. Consequently, the presence of fractures
through the fillet welds at sites of discontinuous longitudinal girders is not surprising.
2.5.4.2 Weld repairs
In its conclusions, the Test House stated The apparent widespread evidence of local
repair welding, some of which was clearly and demonstrably post build, would suggest
that there had been earlier local structural integrity problems and issues in respect of
fillet weld integrity in particular. [sic]

38

Fatigue cracking and welding repairs are not unusual in a vessel of MSC Napolis
age, and the repair of fatigue cracks and welds by on board fitters or riding gangs
is a common practice. However, given the location of the sample removed from the
starboard sea chest, this repair could only have been undertaken with the provision
of an external cofferdam or when the vessel was in a dry dock. No record exists to
indicate when these repairs were undertaken, and they were not reported to either of
the vessels classification societies.
Although it is a requirement to report structural damage including fatigue cracks to
classification societies, it is possible that this requirement is not fully understood. It
is also possible that, due to the incidence of fatigue cracking, and hence the need
for weld repairs on board container ships, it is occasionally overlooked. Such
reporting affords the opportunity for underlying problems to be investigated, and for
permanent remedial action to be taken. In this instance, the fatigue cracking and weld
re-positioning identified after the vessel entered service was possibly indicative of a
local design issue but did not contribute to the vessels structural failure. However, a
failure to report structural damage could result in an opportunity missed for a design
problem to be investigated and permanently rectified.
2.5.4.3 Previous accidents
There is no evidence to indicate that the strength of the hull structure in way of the
engine room had been reduced as a result of the damage sustained by MSC Napoli in
previous accidents, particularly the vessels grounding in 2001 (paragraph 1.7.4).

2.6

IACS Unified Requirements


It has been identified that the hull structure of MSC Napoli failed due to a lack of
buckling strength in the engine room region. At the time of build, no buckling checks
were required by the applicable rules, and none were made. However, as the current
requirements specified in UR S11 leaves buckling checks outside the 0.4L amidships
region to the discretion of individual classification societies, there is a possibility that
even if MSC Napoli had been built after 1992, the lack of buckling strength in way of
her engine room would still not have been identified. Importantly, it is highly probable
that there are a number of other container ships of a similar design to MSC Napoli
which are also vulnerable to localised buckling in severe conditions. It is essential that
such designs are quickly identified and remedial action is taken where necessary.
It is apparent that UR S11 has lagged behind the development of container ship
design and operation and requires immediate revision. The failure to the hull of MSC
Napoli highlights that buckling strength checks must be based on global hull stresses
along the entire length of the hull, and not limited to the 0.4L amidships, or left to the
discretion of individual societies. The use of common methodologies in this respect
would also provide greater assurance that the strength of all new build container ships
is being adequately addressed.
The load and capacity assessments conducted by DNV and BV (Figure 26) show
that, in the case of MSC Napoli, the design margin of safety was either insufficient
when whipping is taken into account (BV), or non-existent (DNV). The analyses
are supported by the fact that the vessel broke her back when within her seagoing
limitations and, although the conditions were severe and had a low probability of
occurrence, they were nevertheless equivalent to the current UR S11 design value.

39

Although it is implicit in UR S11 that the design of a ship ensures that her ultimate
strength is in excess of the maximum loads expected, the scope of the excess or safety
margin is not defined. In practice, it is generally based upon a classification societys
experience, and does not explicitly take into account factors which increase bending
moments such as whipping, or other variables such as inaccuracies in container
weights and distribution. Given the importance of the design safety margin in ensuring
an acceptable level of safety, a more methodical and objective approach is warranted.

2.7

Immediate action taken to identify ships vulnerable to


localised buckling
Following its structural analysis of the hull failure of MSC Napoli, DNV, at the request of
the MAIB and in co-operation with LR developed a two-stage methodology to identify
other container ships which were potentially vulnerable to localised buckling in severe
conditions.
As soon as a methodology had been determined, the Chief Inspector of Marine
Accidents wrote to the Chief Executives of the IACS member societies and the China
Corporation Register to inform them of the circumstances of the hull failure of MSC
Napoli, and his concern that other container ships might also be vulnerable to localised
buckling in severe conditions. Societies were advised of the methodology developed
by DNV and LR to identify such vessels, and were requested that each society use the
methodology (or similar) to screen its vessels, focussing on vessels of 2500 TEU and
greater, with two or more cargo bays aft of their accommodation/engine room.
As a result of the screening process, which involved over 1500 container ships, at the
time of the publication of this report: 12 vessels were identified as potentially having
insufficient buckling strength in severe conditions and requiring remedial action; a
further 10 vessels were identified as being borderline and require more detailed
investigation; and the screening of 8 container ships was still in progress.

2.8

Vessel operation

2.8.1 Speed and heading in heavy weather


Despite the progressively worsening weather conditions during the morning of 18
January, with the ship pounding heavily into the sea, the vessels course and speed
were considered at the time to be appropriate and in keeping with the ship managers
instructions. Engine speed had been reduced overnight from 82rpm to 71rpm, but
this had been prompted by difficulty in controlling the main engine, rather than the
risk of damage to the forward part of the vessel or her containers. The DNV load
and strength assessment of MSC Napoli found that variations in the speed of the
vessel in the modelled sea conditions significantly changed the vertical wave bending
moment experienced. Its analysis determined that a variation of 5kts on the vessels
average speed changed the wave load by approximately 10% (lower speeds giving
lower bending moments). Similarly, variations in the ships speed would have had a
significant effect on the occurrence and magnitude of slamming and whipping, with
higher loads at higher speeds. Therefore, it is almost certain that a reduction of speed
would have significantly reduced the risk of hull failure.
As MSC Napoli was making good 11kts over the ground when the structural failure of
her hull occurred, there was ample scope to reduce speed further and still maintain
steerage.

40

The DNV study indicated that changes to the ships heading relative to the waves
between 0 and 15 had negligible effect on the vertical bending moment. While in
larger alterations away from the sea, torsional effects might become more pronounced,
adjustment of course is nevertheless an important tool in reducing stresses in heavy
weather.
A number of accidents to large tankers and bulk carriers some years ago, resulted
from structural failure. These prompted the use of hull stress monitoring equipment
on such vessels to determine the hull stresses experienced and to assist the masters
of these vessel types to identify when such stresses reached a given threshold. Such
monitoring also ultimately led to significant changes to the design of bulk carriers and
tankers.
The container industry has utilised guidance systems to reduce the prevalence of bow
damage and container loss due to heavy weather. However, given the importance of
speed with regard to wave loading and whipping effect and the failure of the hull of
MSC Napoli, it is evident that the absence of damage to a vessels bow or containers
is not always an accurate indicator of the appropriateness of a vessels speed.
Consequently, research into the potential benefits of hull stress monitoring and/or
vessel motion sensing should be considered.
2.8.2 Operation of the main engine without a governor
An electronic main engine governor facilitates the direct control of an engine from the
bridge or the engine control room. It also prevents a main engine from over-speeding
and tripping when the propeller emerges from the sea in heavy weather. Both of these
functions are important factors in a vessels safe operation and, given the weather
and sea conditions forecast in the English Channel, the decision to sail from Antwerp
without an operational governor was questionable.
The chief engineer and technical superintendent were aware that control of the engine
was only possible from the engines side. The control of the engine from this position
is an emergency mode; the expectation that watch officers would maintain this mode
of operation continuously, standing next to the main engine for the entire passage to
Sines, in the expected sea conditions was unrealistic.
The ship manager was obliged to inform the vessels classification society, DNV, of
failures to critical machinery on board its vessel. In this case, it is debatable whether or
not the main engine governor was critical to the safe operation of the vessel. However,
had the ship manager erred on the side of caution, and at least discussed the status
of the defect with the classification society, this might have allowed a more informed
consideration of its consequences when deciding if the vessel was in a fit material state
to sail from Antwerp.
Given the potentially adverse effect on the vessels manoeuvrability in restricted waters,
the pilot should have been informed of the governor situation.
2.8.3 Departure and arrival hull loading conditions
In Antwerp, MSC Napolis trim was adjusted to allow the vessel to sail from her berth at
any state of the tide. To achieve this, the vessel was ballasted to produce a maximum
draught aft of 13 metres. However, this meant that, in her departure condition, the

41

vessels seagoing maximum bending moments were exceeded. The draught of the
vessel had been similarly adjusted at Felixstowe, again resulting in her exceeding her
seagoing maxima for bending moments. On both occasions, MSC Napoli was within
the maxima for harbour bending moments and, after clearing the locks at Antwerp,
the vessel was reballasted during the transit of the River Schelde to bring her bending
moments to within the maximum seagoing limit.
It is recognised that the harbour bending moment maxima is often applied in sheltered
or enclosed waters. However, the practice of routinely sailing from berths on stresses
in excess of the seagoing maxima was potentially detrimental to the safety of the
vessel. First, altering the draught of MSC Napoli when navigating in restricted waters,
was inherently dangerous, particularly as the pilot was not kept informed. Second,
conducting ballasting operations during periods of standby could have been distracting,
and slack ballast tanks could have adversely affected vessel stability. Finally, the
overstressed condition of the vessel could have made the consequences of an accident,
particularly grounding, considerably worse.
Data from the ships onboard loading computer, experience from other investigations
to container ships, and anecdotal evidence from other ships crews indicate that
the practice of arriving and departing from berths with ship stresses in excess of
permissible seagoing maxima is commonplace within the container ship industry. It
is known that some vessels remain above the maximum seagoing limit when in open
water, particularly when the distance between terminals is short.

2.9

Weight of containers
The audit of the containers removed from MSC Napoli and the deadload calculated
on departure, indicate that the declared weights of many of the containers carried by
the vessel were inaccurate. This discrepancy is widespread within the container ship
industry and is due to many packers and shippers not having the facilities to weigh
containers on their premises. It is also due to shippers deliberately under-declaring
containers weights in order to: minimise import taxes calculated on cargo weight; allow
the over-loading of containers; and to keep the declared weight within limits imposed by
road or rail transportation.
In view of the fact that container ships invariably sail very close to the permissible
seagoing maximum bending moments, the additional undeclared weight has the
potential to cause vessels to exceed these maxima. Container shipping is the only
sector of the industry in which the weight of a cargo is not known. If the stresses acting
on container ships are to be accurately controlled, it is essential that containers are
weighed before embarkation.

2.10 Container ship industry


2.10.1 Environment and culture
Container ships are a key link within the worldwide transportation system, and their
numbers and size have increased rapidly over the last 40 years. Without the ability to
quickly ship large quantities of containers across the oceans, containerisation would
generally be constrained within the continents. However, the commercial advantages
of containerisation and intermodalism such as speed and quick turnarounds appear

42

to have become the focus of the industry at the expense of the safe operation of its
vessels. The industry is very schedule driven, and operators inevitably have an eye on
the timetable when making key decisions.
In this case, the decisions to: sail without an operational governor; sail in excess of the
maximum permissible seagoing bending moments in order to allow greater flexibility for
the time of departure; to operate at near maximum bending moments when underway;
and to keep the ships speed as fast as possible when pounding into heavy seas,
were symptomatic of the industrys ethos to carry as much as possible as quickly as
possible. However, although these decisions were undoubtedly made in the belief
that the ship was operating within acceptable limits, this investigation has shown that
unknown variables such as whipping effect and container weights are able to erode or
eliminate the safety margins in place.
No ship is unbreakable. Classification societies apply structural strength limitations
which are contingent on the application of good seamanship and prudent operational
practice. It has been apparent during the course of this investigation that these caveats
are not widely recognised by many in the container ship industry. Unlike other large
vessels such as bulk carriers, which can frequently disregard the effect of the sea,
due to their lines and limited engine power, container ships cannot. It is essential that
companies recognise this difference and put in place controls and procedures to ensure
that container ships operate within safe limits at all times.
2.10.2 Industry code of best practice
In its report on the investigation of the collapse of cargo containers on Annabella, which
was published in September 2007, the MAIB noted:
Unlike in other sectors of the international shipping industry, there is currently no
dedicated trade organisation which routinely provides guidance on best practice
for the container industry. Working practices relating to the planning, loading,
transportation and discharge of containers are largely unregulated and have
been understandably focussed on the need to maximise efficiency and speed
of operation. While key industry players will attest that safety is of paramount
concern, evidence obtained during this and other MAIB investigations into
container shipping accidents suggests that in reality, the safety of ships, crews
and the environment is being compromised by the overriding desire to maintain
established schedules or optimise port turn round times.
The report identified that there was a clear need for an Industry Code of best practice.
As a result, the following recommendation was made to the International Chamber of
Shipping (ICS):
Work with industry to develop, then promote adherence to, a best practice safety code
to ensure that (inter alia):

Effective communications and procedures exist between all parties involved in the
planning and delivery of containers to ensure ships staff have the resources and
the opportunity to safely oversee the loading and securing of cargo.

Cargo securing manuals are comprehensive and in a format which provides ready
and easy access to all relevant cargo loading and securing information.

43

2.11

Loading computer programmes incorporate the full requirements of a vessels cargo


securing manual. Such computers should be properly approved to ensure that
officers can place full reliance on the information provided.

The availability or otherwise of a reliable, approved, loading computer programme is


a factor to be included in determining an appropriate level of manning for vessels on
intensive schedules.

The resultant increase in acceleration forces and consequent reduction in allowable


stack weights when a vessels GM is increased above the value quoted in the cargo
securing manual is clearly understood by vessels officers. The consequential
effect on container stack weight, height and lashing arrangement for changes in the
vessels GM should be readily available and clearly displayed to ships staff.

Those involved in container operations are aware that containers with allowable
stack weights below the ISO standard are in regular use and must be clearly
identified at both the planning and loading stages to avoid the possibility of such
containers being crushed.

With respect to cargo planning operations:


-

cargo planners have appropriate marine experience or undergo training to


ensure ship safety considerations are fully recognised,

cargo planning software provided is able to recognise and alert planners to the
consequences of variable data e.g. GM, non standard container specifications,

lessons learned from problems identified during container planning operations


are formally reviewed and appropriate corrective measures put in place,

ships staff are provided with sufficient time to verify/approve proposed cargo
plans.

Abandonment
The abandonment of a vessel in any conditions is problematic. Therefore, the
abandonment and successful recovery of the 26 crew from MSC Napoli, in the severe
conditions experienced, is praiseworthy. By the time the master arrived at the lifeboat
embarkation position, the crew were on board and wearing immersion suits and
lifejackets, the engine was running, extra water had been stowed on board, and VHF
radios, SARTs and the EPIRB were ready for use. Despite the vessel rolling heavily,
the enclosed lifeboat was lowered without incident and then manoeuvred clear of the
stricken vessel. Although there were a number of practical issues that should be noted,
this successful abandonment clearly demonstrates the importance and value of regular
maintenance and drills.

44

Section 3 CONCLUSIONS
3.1

Safety issues contributing to the accident which have


resulted in recommendations
1.

The effect of the discrepancies in the declared weights of the containers would
not have been sufficient to cause hull failure, but it would have contributed
to the reduction of the safety margin between the total bending moment
experienced and the strength of the hull. [2.4.2]

2.

Although it is likely that the wave loading experienced by MSC Napoli was
increased by whipping effect, classification societies are unable to predict its
magnitude or effect on a ships structure with any confidence. [2.4.4]

3.

In view of the potential increase in wave loading due to whipping effect, further
research is required within the industry to ensure that the effect is adequately
covered by ship design and structural analyses, and that sufficient allowance is
made for the effect when determining a design margin. [2.4.4]

4.

As the area of the hull which failed was outside of the 0.4L amidships area, the
applicable classification society rules did not require the buckling strength of
the hull in this area to be checked. Therefore the buckling strength of the hull
in way of the engine room was not calculated by either the ship builder or BV.
[2.5.2]

5.

The transverse framing in the engine room of MSC Napoli was an inherently
weak structure when under compressive loading. [2.5.3]

6.

It is apparent that UR S11 has lagged behind the development of container ship
design and operation, and requires immediate revision. Buckling checks must
be based on global hull stresses along the entire length of the hull and not left
to the discretion of individual societies. The use of common methodologies in
this respect would provide greater assurance that the strength of all new build
container ships is being adequately addressed. [2.6]

7.

In view of the importance of the design safety margin in ensuring an acceptable


level of safety, a more objective approach is warranted. [2.6]

8.

Given the importance of speed with regard to wave loading and whipping
effect, research into the provision of hull stress monitoring and/or vessel motion
sensing on container ships should be considered. [2.8.1]

9.

Although the vessels speed was considered to be appropriate in the conditions


experienced, it is almost certain that a reduction of speed would have
significantly reduced the risk of hull failure. [2.8.1]

10.

The stresses acting upon a container ships hull cannot be accurately controlled
unless containers are weighed before embarkation. [2.9]

45

3.2

3.3

46

Other safety issues identified during the investigation also


leading to recommendations
11.

It is possible that the requirement to report structural damage, including fatigue


cracking and weld repairs on main structural members, to classification societies
is either not fully understood or is occasionally overlooked. [2.5.4.2]

12.

Although it is debatable whether or not the defect to the main engine governor
was critical to the safe operation of the vessel, had the ship manager discussed
the status of the defect with the classification society, this might have allowed
a more informed consideration of its consequences when deciding if the vessel
was in a fit material state to sail from Antwerp. [2.8.2]

13.

Despite the potentially adverse effect on the manoeuvrability of the vessel in


restricted waters, the pilot was not informed of the defect to the main engine
governor. [2.8.2]

14.

The practice of arriving and departing from berths, in a loaded condition that was
in excess of permissible seagoing maxima, was potentially detrimental to safety
but is commonplace within the container ship industry. [2.8.3]

Safety issues identified during the investigation which have


not resulted in recommendations but have been addressed
15.

As a result of the screening of over 1500 container ships by their respective


classification societies, 12 vessels were identified as being potentially vulnerable
to localised buckling in severe conditions and requiring remedial action. [2.7]

16.

The commercial advantages of containerisation and intermodalism such as


speed and quick turnarounds appear to have become the focus of the industry
at the expense of the safe operation of its vessel. [2.10]

Section 4 - action taken


4.1

Classification Societies
The classification societies of the 12 container ships identified as being potentially
vulnerable to localised buckling and requiring remedial action are, in consultation with
the vessels owners, in the process of determining permanent technical solutions.
Further investigation of the 10 ships requiring more detailed examination and the
screening of the remaining 8 ships is ongoing. Where necessary the immediate safety
of the ships identified as being at risk or requiring more detailed investigation will be
ensured by the imposition of operational limitations until technical solutions can be
undertaken. The Chief Inspector has written to the Chief Executive of one classification
society which has not yet completed its screening process strongly advising that similar
action be considered should any of its vessels be found to require permanent remedial
action.

4.2

International Chamber of Shipping


Following the MAIB recommendation 2007/176 made in its report on the investigation
of the collapse of the cargo containers on Annabella (Report No 21/2007), the Chamber
has convened a group of container ship industry experts and, with the assistance of
the World Shipping Council, has started work to develop and publish a code of best
practice for the industry. The code is expected to be completed by the end of 2008,
after which it will be presented to IMO for adoption.

4.3

Maritime and Coastguard Agency


In May 2007, the MCA tabled a paper at the Paris MOU Port State Control Committee
on the subject of operational checks and the human factor in loading of ships and
whether adequate checks were being carried out prior to sailing. The paper highlighted
the loading of tankers and compliance with damage stability criteria. Also, as a late
addition because of the structural failure to MSC Napoli, and anticipating concerns
regarding container ships, the paper also mentioned carrying out container weight and
ship longitudinal strength checks on such vessels. The UK will lead a task force to
consider these checks for a concentrated inspection campaign planned for 2010, taking
into account the findings of this report.

47

Section 5 recommendations
The International Association of Classification Societies is recommended to:
2008/128

Review the contents of UR S11 (Longitudinal Strength Standard) to ensure:


Hull girder strength and buckling checks are carried out on all critical
sections along the entire length of the hull.
An evaluation of the suitability of current UR S11 design wave bending
moment criteria for vessels with low block coefficient is undertaken.
Member societies use common methodologies when complying with the
requirements of this rule.

2008/129

Consolidate the results of current research undertaken by its member societies


into the effect of whipping on hull structures and to incorporate these results into
future revisions of its unified requirements.

2008/130

Research and review the technological aids available which would assist
masters to measure hull stresses in port and at sea.

The International Chamber of Shipping is recommended to:


2008/131

When developing a Code of Best Practice for the container industry (MAIB
recommendation 2007/176 refers):
Engage with IACS on the incorporation of issues within the Code which are
of mutual interest, e.g. the need to adhere to operational limits on hull stress
as set by the relevant classification society and the need for the objective
assessment and reporting of fatigue cracking.
Ensure the Code addresses the following:
- the need to establish the actual weight of containers before being loaded
onto a vessel.
- the importance of safe speed and prudent seamanship when navigating
in conditions of heavy weather.

Zodiac Maritime Agencies Ltd is recommended to:


2008/132

Review its safety management system and auditing procedures to ensure:


Guidance and instructions to masters regarding speed in heavy weather take
into account the lessons learned from this accident.
Its shore management consults with the relevant classification societies
when there is any doubt regarding the criticality of machinery items on board
its vessels, which are defective or unserviceable.
Its masters are fully aware of the requirement to inform embarked pilots of all
factors affecting manoeuvrability and stability.

Marine Accident Investigation Branch


April 2008
Safety recommendations shall in no case create a presumption of blame or liability
48