The issue of car carrier stability remained in the spotlight during 2015, which was marred by the deliberate grounding of the 2000-built 51,770gt pure car carrier Hoegh Osaka in January. It developed a list shortly after departing Southampton, UK, for Bremerhaven in Germany. Car carriers have a high freeboard and large superstructure to allow for loading wheeled cargoes, which leaves them more susceptible to wind and bad weather.
Falling fuel oil prices have helped to overcome inherent stability issues as operators opt to carry more than the minimum levels of bunkers, but appropriate training remains vital to maintaining safety levels. Crews and pilots need to be adequately trained as a loss of stability on one of these ships could be disastrous. “It’s key that we keep the focus on safety standards for these types of ships,” says Captain Rahul Khanna, Global Head of Marine Risk Consulting at AGCS.