The hull of the 1,727 TEU Matson containership S/S Matsonia cracked spilling over heavy fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay.

The vessel was built in 1973 by Sun Ship building, a year before the doomed E1 Faro at the same shipyard using the same basic hull design.  The incident occured on Thursday 21st February.

The Matsonia’s crew, observed a glaze surrounding the vessel around 8 a.m., initiated the vessel response plan and redistributed an oil boom around the ship. The divers soon detected a crack in the hull of the ship. The crack was approximately 15-feet below the waterline adjacent to the starboard fuel tank. On next day, Friday, Matson finished a deportation of the heavy fuel oil from the damaged tank to other fuel tanks all through the ship to lessen the flow of leaking oil.

Coast Guard marine inspectors were scheduled to examine the vessel and supervise repairs once the fuel tank has been considered safe to enter.

The loss of the Matsonia’s sister ship EL FARO, including its 33 member crew, ranks as one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history and resulted in the apical death toll from a U.S. commercial vessel sinking in almost 40 years.

Since the Matsonia is much older than the El Faro. It is quite unclear why the US Coast Guard has allowed the ship to continue sailing considering, in his report on the El Faro investigation finding, the USCG Commandant Admiral Zukunft said “these two factors (vessel age and ship type) were the leading risk indicators that resulted in the EL FARO being placed at the threshold for inclusion on the targeted vessel list.”

It is also not clear what led to the crack, if the ship’s structural issues were earlier known to inspectors and if the hull conditions were more closely monitored or scrapped after the El Faro findings, this incident could have been avoided.

It is not even clear that why Matson has not followed several of the recommendations of the USCG and NTSB investigation reports including upgrading the Matsonia’s open lifeboats.


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