COSCO, which stands for China Ocean Shipping Company, is a Chinese company, wholly owned by the government. It is a huge and important company for China and one of the country’s major brands. In terms of its own industry, COSCO is among the largest container shipping companies in the world and its containers are seen around the world and easily recognizable.
COSCO is an intermodal container shipping company, which means that it transports cargo by ship, but also by train, truck, and other means. The company has multiple subsidiaries and offers other services beyond shipping and transport. Like any company involved in overseas shipping, COSCO has faced its fair share of accidents. These have too often caused environmental damage and put workers at risk of injury and even death.
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COSCO Container Lines is headquartered in Shanghai, while the COSCO group that oversees all aspects of the company is headquartered in Beijing. Founded in 1961, and totally owned by the government of the People’s Republic of China, COSCO grew quickly to become one of the largest shipping companies in the world. In addition to shipping it offers terminal services, warehousing, insurance, real estate, ship repair, and freight forwarding, as well as intermodal transportation.
The container lines part of the COSCO group is headquartered in Shanghai, but maintains regional headquarters in several other cities around the world: Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, New York, Hamburg, Dubai, Sydney, Beijing, and Singapore. The company operates in 160 countries. It is the largest liner company and dry bulk carrier in China.
History of COSCO
The China Ocean Shipping Company was founded in 1961 in Beijing and launched the first Chinese-flagged passenger ship. The company grew over the decade by buying more ships and expanding services. It made its first trip to Europe in 1967, launching COSCO’s international shipping line. In 1978 the first container ship launched and by 1979the company had made its firsts trip to North America. In 1980 COSCO founded its first international partnership with the Holland Transocean Company. Over the next few decades the company would continue to grow into one of the largest shippers in the world.
Operations and Fleet
COSCO offers a number of services and operates in hundreds of countries and ports around the world. It transports cargo and containers via intermodal routes, offers terminal services in many ports, does freight forwarding, and is even involved in ship building and repair of ships. COSCO Container Lines maintains a fleet of 160 container ships with a total TEU capacity of over 750,000. Much of the company’s operations are conducted in China, but it is also a big player in international shipping, covering hundreds of routes across the globe.
The Dangers of Container Shipping
There are many things that can go wrong in the container shipping industry. These are huge ships that are operated by only a handful of people. Workers are also involved in moving the large containers from ships to ports and back again. They operate the massive cranes that lift these containers and must do so safely. They have to navigate these massive ships into and out of busy ports and shipping channels.
So many things can go wrong with container ships, no matter how responsible the maritime company operating them is. These companies, like COSCO, have a responsibility to take all reasonable precautions to provide a work environment that is as safe as possible for its workers. When a company is negligent, people get hurt and even die.
Seamen on container ships face a wide array of possible dangers. These include collisions between ships and between the ship and something else, like a bridge or canal. They also face the dangers associated with rough waters and bad weather, including falling overboard or being struck by shifting cargo. If equipment malfunctions or is not operated correctly, they can face fires and other dangers. Cargo ships even face piracy in some waters.
Many maritime companies like COSCO have experienced unfortunate accidents, some minor, and some very serious. COSCO has been known for a few high-profile accidents that caused damage to ships and environmental harm, but fortunately no harm to workers. One of these occurred in Norway in 2009 when the bulk carrier Full City had an engine failure and ran aground in a storm. It ended up spilling 200 tons of fuel in an area that was important to wildlife. The company was responsible for making sure such failures are not likely to happen by maintaining ships and training workers.
Another incident occurred in 2010 when the Shen Neng 1 ran aground in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. It leaked oil into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which is a protected natural area, closed to shipping through commercial lines. It turned out that the COSCO ship was well off course according to the shipping plan that it had lodged with Australian agencies.
In 2016, COSCO experienced an embarrassing accident that caused damage to its large container ship, the Xin Fei Zhou. It unfortunately became the first shipping line to have a vessel pass through the newly expanded Panama Canal and the first company with a ship that collided with the new canal wall. The ship was damaged, but the canal was not greatly damaged and no one was hurt.
In another 2016 accident in Egypt’s Port Said, COSCO did cause injuries to workers. The ship Hope collided with a crane in the port, which caused several cranes to tip over, containers to topple over, and fires to start in the port. There was even an explosion as chemicals spilled and several workers were injured in addition to the huge amount of equipment and container damage caused by the crash.
Injured Workers’ Rights
If you find yourself in a similar situation, injured in an accident like those that COSCO ships have been involved with over the years, you should know that you have rights. You have rights under maritime laws to seek and receive compensation, whether you are a longshoreman, a seaman, or other type of maritime worker with a maritime company as an employer.
Depending on which law applies to you as a maritime worker, how you seek compensation for your injuries in a workplace accident will vary. You can find out what to do about getting monetary damages by contacting a maritime lawyer. This is an expert in the area of maritime law who can tell you what steps to take to ensure you get the compensation you are owed from your employer. Never agree to anything without talking to one of these lawyers first.