Updated: Another marine accident, in Taiwan now

SUBANG JAYA, June 3 – While concerns are being raised on the possible damages done to marine environment following the final sinking of a container ship that caught fire off the Sri Lankan coast more than 10 days ago, another marine accident has taken place in a Taiwan port today.

The incident today in Kaohsiung Port, saw a ship that was badly damaged.

While there is no clear information yet on exactly what happened, an ex port operator in Penang, says it is highly possible that the gantry crane (shore crane) at the port was not properly operated. Based on the video that captured the incident, it shows that the two booms of crane (arm) were left hanging and not fully raised or uplifted when they were not in operation.

The near empty container was too close and it was probably too late for the ship to stop moving forward and the vessel’s bridge hit the boom of the gantry, said Tham Soon Seong, a businessman who once served as branch manager for the Danish shipping company, Maersk Line Sdn Bhd..

File pix of Tham Soon Seong

“What is intriguing is that it happened in fine weather and day light. It should not have happened, as the near empty container vessel was within the port vicinity. Both the pilot and captain and master should account for what happened.

“Another observation is that communication was in Hokkien and there could have been a communication issue as well.”

The container ship vessel belongs to OOCL of Hongkong (CY Tung Group).

The incident comes after a ship, the MV X-Press Pearl off the Sri Lankan coast caught fire on May 20. The vessel contained chemicals such as nitric acid and also had tanks on board with 350 metric tons of oil.

For more than two weeks, the Sri Lanka Navy and Indian Coast Guard had been working round the clock to try to stop the ship from sinking after it caught fire.

On Tuesday, the owner of the ship, Sea Consortium announced that the ship had sunk while it was being towed away from the coast area, triggering off fears of serious ecological damage.