The cause of a deadly accident between a car carrier and small containership
off the coast of Rotterdam Wednesday night was still not formally known, but suspected to be caused by human error, according to a report by Reuters
Meanwhile, the death toll from the collision between between the 3,000-unit car carrier Baltic Ace
and the 700-TEU feeder vessel Corvus J
rose to 11, as rescuers were unable to find seven crew members reported missing from the accident. Four other crew were declared dead as of Thursday morning.
Panagiootis Kakoliris, operations manager at Stamco Ship Management Co., which managed the Baltic Ace
, told Reuters
sea conditions were normal when the 23,500-ton ship went down. He said technical failure was extremely unlikely because the ship was just five years old, in very good condition and had passed a safety inspection in August.
"We had a very violent collision which was the reason for the quick sinking of the vessel," Kakoliris said. "It was most probably hit in the side and that's why water entered in huge quantities with this result. You cannot control some things. This happened in good weather, normal weather. There was good visibility, so I feel most probably there was a human error.”
Kakoliris did not indicate who he thought was responsible for the collision. According to the Dutch officials, the ship sank in 15 minutes in windy and snowy conditions.
The car carrier was reportedly carrying 1,400 cars, mostly Mitsubishis from Japan and Thailand. The vessel was en route from Zeebrugge to Finland. Reports suggest the vessel was insured for roughly $50 to $60 million. The containership, plying a route between Scotland and Antwerp, was damaged but not in danger of sinking, while its crew were unharmed.
“Our thoughts are with the families of those seafarers who have tragically lost their lives in this collision,” said Secretary General of the International Union of Marine Insurance Fritz Stabinger. “It highlights the dangers and risks that seafarers take each and every day across the world. It is far too early to speculate on the insured costs of the incident, but the loss of the Baltic Ace
comes in the final month of a year which began with the loss of the (cruise ship) Costa Concordia
, and goes to highlight the rising exposures assumed by the world’s marine insurance industry.
“The collision occurred in one of the world’s busiest sea routes and is further evidence that the waterways of the English Channel were, are and will continue to be dangerous and a high-risk area," Stabinger added. "The marine insurance industry will work with its clients and the authorities in the weeks to come to provide every assistance.”
Thirteen crewmen were rescued by helicopter or life raft the night of the collision, and all were said to be in stable condition.
“This is a very sad loss,” said International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Acting General Secretary Stephen Cotton said. “The ITF is monitoring the situation and will provide full assistance to crew and families of the deceased.”
ITF inspectors in the Netherlands and Belgium are meeting with the surviving crew of the Baltic Ace
, which was covered by an ITF agreement, as well as visiting the Corvus J
“The Dutch coast guard did an excellent job in extremely difficult search conditions, with strong winds and high seas,” Cotton said. “They are to be congratulated.” - Eric Johnson