Car Carrier Vessel Damages Automobiles

Background

A roll on/roll off car carrier vessel containing over 4,800 new automobiles was en route to western North American ports for delivery.  During ballast exchange in international waters, the ship lost stability and developed a 60 degree list to port.  There were reports of a large wave striking the vessel during the ballast transfer, but the effect of the impact on the ship’s stability was unknown.  The automobile manufacturer reported minimal damage to the vehicles on board, despite the ship listing for over a month.  However, the US Coast Guard reported that 41 vehicles had broken loose and shifted.  Later, the ship along with its cargo was up-righted and towed for inspection and repair.  

Services Provided

Rimkus was retained by the ship owner to evaluate the extent of the damage to the cargo. Rimkus engineers inspected the automobiles, performed destructive examination of some of the automobiles, prepared testing plans for some of the automobiles, and prepared a damage estimate.  Rimkus estimated the cost to restore the cargo was approximately $13 million.  Following our report of findings, the manufacturer announced that all the vehicles would be crushed and scrapped.  The cargo had been initially valued at $117 million.

National Practice Leaders

Dirk E. Smith

Ph.D., P.E., ACTAR

Senior Vice President, Transportation and Products Division