Why cars and rough seas don't mix

Last updated 09:28 29/07/2013
Fairfax Australia

Cargo ship loses its load in rough seas.

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It is not uncommon for cars to spend weeks on cargo ships en route to their destination - but sometimes the cars simply don’t make it.

That scenario played out on a ship that experienced rough seas on a chaotic ocean crossing from Japan to Russia by the Cambodian vessel, Astongate.

According to the description of the dramatic vision uploaded to YouTube, the ship was carrying 64 used cars to Vladivostok, but following a storm and enormous swells, only 12 made it to the end. Further investigation suggests the incident may have actually occurred in February 2012, according to The Maritime Bulletin.

The vessel is described as being a Roll-on, Roll-off (RO-RO) ship, which are commonly used for shipping cars. In most cases, however, the vehicles are secured in the hull of the ship, meaning they won't be exposed to the elements. In this instance, however, the cars were on the top-deck.

The video shows several cars falling over the edges of the ship, and it appears there are broken tie-down straps littered over the deck.

The person who paid for the cars to be carried on the top deck of the ship reportedly signed a document acknowledging the risks involved.

There have been other well-documented incidents involving RO-RO ships, including the sinking of the MS Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987.

And even cargo ships with the cars secured in the hull can experience significant problems at sea. For example, the Norwegian carrier MV Tricolor sank in the English Channel in 2002, taking 2800 cars with it. And in 2006, a ship with nearly 5000 Mazdas on board tipped onto its side in rough seas.

-Fairfax News Australia

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