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Ferry sink in Korea

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    Ferry sink in Korea

    Another ferry catastrophe is unfolding. This time in Korea.
    This ferry, bound on her regular run from Incheon on the West coat, near Seoul to Jeju Island off the South West coast with over 470 people on board has sunk with nearly 300 people missing.
    Nobody know what happened yet, but the weather is reported to have been good weith good visibility in the area at the time.
    Here is a photo of the near new ferry:

    Last moment before it sunk:

    Notice that most of the life rafts are still in their racks as the ferry is listing 60 degr. or more:

    No activity around the rafts, which could have saved hundreds, while helicopter was winching up one at a time:

    Correction, not near new as stated on BBC Wold News.
    Here is the specs:
    IMO number9105205
    Name of the shipSEWOL
    Type of shipRO-RO/PASSENGER SHIP
    Gross tonnage6586 tons
    DWT3981 tons
    Year of build1994
    Former namesFERRY NAMINOUE until 2012 Oct


      Ferry schedule:
      Sewol Departure from Incheon 18:30 →
      Arrival at Jeju 08:00
      Sun Around
      13.5 hours
      Departure from Incheon 17:30 →
      Arrival at Jeju 07:00
      Departure from Jeju 18:30 →
      Arrival at Incheon 08:00
      Wed, Fri


        She must have listed over almost instantly for so many to become trapped within her. Unless of course they had been instructed to remain where they were - 'everything is under control'.

        Shocking that so many people were lost even though rescue was on hand before she rolled over completely.
        Your charts, your radar, your eyes and ears - if all 4 agree, you may proceed with caution.


          According to various reports, Steve, they were told just that - to remain where they were. Those that survived were mostly those who had "disobeyed orders" and jumped into the water. Also, it seems to be another case where the captain made sure he got off safely.

          "To thine own self be true.......
          Thou canst not then be false to any man."


          • Steve.B
            Steve.B commented
            Editing a comment
            I have just heard that on the news, Ivy. Most certainly sounds like another terrible decision was made by a Captain. Looking at the photos above, it is clear there is plenty of deck space that passengers could have mustered on. If they had i am sure most would have survived.
            Still not clear yet why the ferry sank, some reports saying it must have hit an obstruction, but some are now saying the ferry may have made a sharp turn at speed, causing cargo to shift. I know a ferry will list very heavily if a sharp turn is made at speed, maybe that coupled with a shift in cargo was enough to put her past the point of no return. But i am sure the question will be answered very soon, obviously the hull will show any evidence of a collision with an underwater obstruction.

          This is a Ro/Pax vessel with the car deck stretching full length of the vessel without water tight separation. She was doing a routine coastal voyage in good weather, with a mixture of cars and trucks on board according to reports. When the vessel reached a certain list, whether from incursion of water from grounding, or from turning hard at high speed, the vehicles would start to slide to the low side and aggravate the list. How well the vehicles were lashed, if at all, is not known yet, thus the list required for this to happen is also not known.

          Regardless of the cause of the list, which will be known later, the way the emergency situation was handled. or rather not handled, by the Master and crew is going to be the main question asked in a future inquiry into this accident. No General Alarm sounded, no mustering of passengers on deck and no order to abandon ship appears to have been give. In stead the pax were told to stay in their cabins or seats, even as the ferry was listing heavily and starting to sink. These being mostly young Koreans, raised in a Confucian society, they would be "programmed" to follow orders.

          Looking at the pictures above it can clearly be seen that life rafts has not been launched. In fact only two are in the water, but nobody have pulled the line to inflate them. Nobody with training at hand??

          The rescuers arrived on the scene very quickly, in both boats and helicopters. Some of them boarded the vessel, which was listing badly but stayed afloat for a reported 90 min., before capsizing and sinking. They did not appear to have tried to launch the rafts and organize an orderly abandonment either. They ordered the passengers and crew to jump into the water, according to reports. In stead they picked up survivors by winching them up to helicopters and from the water, one by one. A slow and difficult operation, especially when dealing with untrained and panicky passengers.
          In one video they are shown to drop light inflatable rafts into the water, which is blown away by the rotor wash, while proper life rafts are available only a few meters away.

          This being a Coastal Ferry on a short trip of less than 24 hrs., there would have been no Muster Drill before departure, as is required for Cruise ships.
          There MAY have been a Safety Video shown, but nobody normally pay attention to that.


            Now the normal media confusion about anything nautical commence:
            "The Captain was not in Command" - Yes the Captain/Master is ALWAYS in command, he was just not on the bridge at the time. Do they expect the master to be on the bridge 24/7??
            "He was not at the helm / He was not steering the ship" - Two varieties of the same statement. The Captain / Master doesn't steer the the ship, a Quartermaster does, unless on Autopilot.*
            "The 3rd Mate" was in command" - No, he was officer of the watch and in charge of navigation, as he should be during his watch.
            "Was the 3rd Mate qualified to be in command?" - No, but he was probably qualified per STCW'95 to be Officer of the Watch and to navigate the ship on her normal route in coastal waters.
            "The Captain escaped from the ship in a lifeboat" - This ferry does not have lifeboats, only life rafts. It appears that he had launched one for himself and was among the first to be picked up.
            "It is against the law for the Master to abandon ship before everybody else has been evacuated" - No, this is not Maritime Law, but a custom. It cannot always be the case, as he is obliged to save himself when no more can be done to save others.

            This was just from BBC World News. Imagine what the sensation press will come with in the days ahead.

            *) I notice that a certain other Captain is trying to blame the Indonesian Quartermaster for having caused the sinking of the Costa Concordia by not understanding orders.


            • ombugge
              ombugge commented
              Editing a comment
              Latest from BBC News; "Shocking news that the 3rd Mate was at the helm, not the Captain" - Well it should not shock anybody, since the accident happened around 0900 hrs., which is on the 3rd Officer's watch. (From 0800 - 1200 hrs. on most ships)

              A floating crane has arrived from Ulsan. It has a lifting capacity of 3600 m.t using all 4 hooks. Now just wait for the confusion about GT (6,825) and the actual weight of the ship "as is" (Displacement)
              "How can they lift a ship weighing 6825 tons with a crane able to lift 3,600 tonnes"????

            Time line for this accident:


            • ombugge
              ombugge commented
              Editing a comment
              At the position shown as the position of the accident there appears to be a shallow bank on GE. (Just to the SW of Manjae-do)
              But I cannot find anything of how shallow. (My navigation chart subscription has expired)

            The last view:

            These pictures must have been taken seconds before the picture in #1/3:

            Notice the man in yellow shirt in ALL?? It appears that the man on the deck has just released the two fwrd. life rafts in the 1/3 picture.
            (That probably explains why the life rafts had not yet been activated)


              Video from the national Korean TV Station Ariang:





                The Sewol was built as the ferry NAMINOUE in Japan and for a Japanese owner for operation in Japanese coastal waters.
                Here is what she looked like when new:

                She was sold to present Korean Owners in Oct. 2012 and converted to carry more passengers on the Incheon - Jeju route.
                This consisted of adding more superstructure on the top decks aft. Here she is after conversion:

                This adds substantial weight high up, which should have been compensated for by fixed/solid ballast to maintain stability. Was it??
                Class changed from NKK to Korean Register Class at the same time.
                It appear to have become the accepted fact that a rapid course change caused the ferry to list sharply, which in turn caused the cargo of unsecured trucks and cars on the main deck and eventually the Containers on the foredeck to shift to one side and increase the list beyond recovery. If water entered the car deck, we have the classical Spirit of Free Enterprise and Estonia situation, resulting in a complete capsize. (But surprisingly slow in this case)

                The Captain's explanation that he did not order the passengers to muster on deck can be justified by the fact that that could have aggravated the situation, but to say that he delayed ordering Abandon Ship because of cold water and worry that there were no rescuers around before the ferry got to 60 degr. list is unbelievable from an experienced Master Mariner.

                The ferry had life jackets for everyone 46 life rafts to SOLAS standard on board, which should have been used at a stage where it became obvious the efforts to recover would not succeed. That is what they are there for. Even if the crew did not organize an orderly evacuation, the first rescuers on the scene should have done so.

                The ferry floated on her side for a long time and tugs were already there at a fairly early stage, but no attempts were made to tow the casualty towards shallow water to ensure that she would not sink entirely under water. If that had happened to the Costa Concordia that would have been a larger accident than this by far. (No thanks to her Master, I may add))

                It will be interesting to watch what will be the the outcome of the inquiry and whether anything will change with the way RO/Pax ferries are operated around the world.


                  Latest on Ariang TV:

                  The cause of the capsize is becoming clearer by the day. In fact it looks like my post above.
                  - No fixed ballast added on conversion. (This would have reduced the cargo carrying capacity)
                  - Cargo not secured,
                  - Not able to make a sharp turn due to lack of stability.

                  The ferry should thus be regarded as un-seaworthy and should not have been approved and certified by the Class Society and Korean Authorities.
                  Unfortunately Class and Certifying Authority is the same organization. No checks and balances. (As is the fact in most cases and in most Flag States)

                  The Korean President should know better than making statement about guilt or anything else involving a case already in the legal system.


                    The latest from Ariang:

                    They got it in the wrong order:
                    Unstable because of conversion
                    Unsecured cargo
                    Hard turn

                    Now a knee jerk reaction is proposed; "Officers to lose their licence if a ferry accident causing loss of life occur".
                    What if the accident is NOT caused by the Officers, but by the Management and/or Authorities??


                      Latest from Chosun Ilbo:

                      The owner of the ferry is apparently remorseful:

                      More than one to blame:

                      Not surprising; Not all accounts of what happened were true:

                      There were heroes, not just villains:


                      Also from Chosun Ilbo.
                      But the captain and many crew of the Sewol were the first to abandon ship. A ship's captain must stay aboard his ship until all passengers have disembarked safely and needs to ensure that all measures are taken to rescue lives. But the captain of the Sewol did not bother to abide by these basic rules.

                      Not true. The Master is required to take all possible measures to ensure that passengers and crew abandon ship in an organized manner. Noting says that he has to stay on the ship to do this, or that he has to sacrifice his life because it is not always possible to do so.

                      ​That the Captain is last to leave or goes down with his ship is a romantic notion, but not Maritime Law. (That would be tantamount to a death sentence)

                      Basic safety rules are easily ignored, but in emergencies they save lives. The string of major accidents Korea has suffered over the years, costing many lives, resulted from a lack of respect for basic safety regulations. In Korea, people who insist on abiding by basic rules are often considered annoying or inflexible, while those who are adept at dodging them are seen as smart. But the country is full of such smart people, and the result has been catastrophic.
                      How true, and not just in Korea. No need for comments.