This shipping disaster includes two separate incidents which occurred right offshore within the period of a month on two of the M/V Zhen Hua vessels.
When transporting goods across the ocean, being close to shore does not guarantee the safety of the vessel Whether a boat is docked or near the port, disaster can still strike.
This cautionary tale involves the Shanghai Zhen Hua Port Machinery Co. (ZPMC), the largest producer for large container cranes in the world. In order for ZPMC to transport their cranes, they converted 18 bulk cargo ships into specialized vessels designed to carry huge cranes across the ocean. This kind of transportation can be very dangerous due to the wind sensitivity of the tall cranes.
The ZPMC disaster includes 2 individual incidents which both happened within in the same month.
Beached off Rotterdam Entrance: M/V Zhen Hua 10
The first part of our story begins as the ZMPC M/V Zhen Hua 10 broke free of her moorings in a storm near Rotterdam Port in the Netherlands. The night of February 2nd the ship containing 5 container cranes ran aground just off the beach. The danger of this situation was increased due to the wind sensitivity of the massive cranes aboard the M/V Zhen Hua 10. The ship could capsize and the cranes could fall across the Danish beach if help didn’t come quickly.
To combat the situation, SMIT Salvage was contracted to refloat the M/V Zhen Hua 10. The ship was slowly drifting towards the shore and time was running out. A crew arrived on site and 3 tug boats were connected to the ship.
On February 5th, during the high tide, the M/V Zhen Hua 10 was successfully refloated and pulled into port. Disaster was luckily avoided for ZMPC and the expensive cargo onboard was saved.
The Dangers of Docking: M/V Zhen Hua 23
Next, after a close call on February 2nd with the M/V Zhen Hua 10, a new vessel the M/V Zhen Hua 23 carried a new load into the Port of Felixstowe in the UK. This shipment included 5 cranes with a value of 7.9 million each. 3 of the cranes were to be delivered to Felixstowe and the other 2 were destined for other European ports.
On the night of March 1st, the M/V Zhen Hua 23 was blown into contact with the Felixstowe Landguard Terminal. Winds gusts reached 80mph during the night and operations were suspended during the high winds.
The M/V Zhen Hua 23 was then beached and serious damage was caused to two of the three cranes in the terminal. Overnight, when the ship was blown into the terminal it made contact with one of the port’s cranes causing it to collapse. As a result, the first crane fell onto another port crane and the domino effect destroyed it as well. During the destruction, one of MPC’s five cranes onboard was also wrecked during the storm.
In a stroke of luck, the cranes destroyed at Felixstowe weren’t vital to their day-to-day operations. The M/V Zhen Hua 23 continued to unload their new cranes and went on their way after their business was conducted. The ZMPC crane which was destroyed was destined for Oxelosund Hamm, Sweden.
This was the second accident endured by ZMPC in the matter of a month. Transporting these cranes is obviously a hazardous task.
Transporting Goods Across the Ocean
This series of accidents is another example of how unpredictable marine transport can be. No matter what the cargo, danger lies around every corner in the ocean. These two incidents happened very close to the shore and are a prime example that open water does not increase or decrease the risk to your shipments.
Story and images sourced from CargoLaw