S. Korea Ferry Sewol Frequently Exceeded Cargo LimitBy: Toni Matthews-El - May 4, 2014
As the investigation into the sinking of the Sewol continues, it becomes clear that there is more to the ship’s sinking than an inept captain and crew.
Hundreds of people are now dead or missing because of a gross violation of maritime law that may have started with the ship’s owners.
A major factor in the sinking of the South Korean ferry is that it was carrying far too much cargo. Startlingly, it was no accident.
Reports indicate that the vessel was overloaded on nearly every trip it made in the thirteen months prior to sinking.
Ship owner Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd. had the ship redesigned in 2013. Since then, the ship had made nearly 200 trips back and forth between the Incheon port near Seoul and Jeju Island.
Of the 394 individual voyages to a single destination, it has been determined that the ship was overloaded on 246 separate occasions.
Despite the 987 ton cargo limit, the Sewol at times carried cargo in excess of 2000 tons. Chonghaejin claimed that the ship could carry a total of 3,963 tons of cargo, a number to which the ship had gotten close on a dozen times.
The ship needed 2000 tons of water to stay balanced. The imposed limit was meant to make sure the ship was always balanced and able to travel safely through the water.
The tragic sinking of the Sewol has exposed the failure of the maritime system in South Korea to accurately and efficiently enforce safety laws.
Chonghaejin was never required to report the ship’s readjusted cargo limits to either the South Korean coast guard or Korean Shipping Association. This loophole may have contributed to the company’s constantly allowing the ship to be overloaded.
The lack of regulation may also have contributed to the tragic events that occurred a few weeks ago.
Prior to the final voyage of the Sewol, Captain Lee Joon-seok recorded there were 150 cars and 657 tons of cargo. That number was incorrect; the coast guard identified 180 cars in the water.
It’s likely that the horrible incident will force an update in policies that prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.
Image via YouTube