Thursday, May 9, 2013

RoRo Container Vessel Accident Causes Freight and Passenger Activities to Cease

Death Toll Rises as Mystery Surrounds 'Routine Manoeuvre'
Shipping News Feature

ITALY – Terminals at one of the country’s busiest ports came to a halt following the accident which has left seven dead with two still missing after the RoRo container vessel MV Jolly Nero struck a control tower in the harbour at Genoa just before midnight on Tuesday (7 May). The tower was crowded with staff as a shift change was underway at the time the 23,500 dwt box ship loaded with freight apparently attempted a routine manoeuvre reversing away from her berth.

With January’s Costa Concordia in which thirty two lives were lost still fresh in Italian minds, this latest disaster has elicited immediate action from the authorities who have detained the ships master and the pilot who were both aboard at the time. The vessel is believed to have been towed away initially by two tugs as is usual and appears to have side swiped the tower whilst turning around although this has yet to be confirmed.

The most puzzling aspect of this affair is that conditions on the night in question are said to have been ‘perfect’. The head of the Genoese Port Authority said he found the accident ‘unbelievable’ given the fact that the manoeuvre was well practiced and conditions were so calm, investigators will examine all the evidence to attempt to discover if the cause of the disaster was a fault either with the tow lines, engine failure or simply human error.

Normal handling of cargo at the port was temporarily suspended and the Multedo Oil Terminal remained closed much of yesterday with some other facilities remaining shut. The two missing personnel are believed trapped inside the tower with only slim hopes for their survival. The Jolly Nero is owned by Ignazio Messina & C. which operates a fleet of fourteen ships plus others on charter all being capable of carrying RoRo cargo, containers and break bulk making the company the second largest RoRo operator in the world according to its website.

Photo: The wreckage of the port control tower lies strewn across the berth.