As the largest shipping company in South Korea, Hanjin Shipping is also one of the ten largest shipping companies in the world. The company’s fleet includes nearly 200 vessels, with container ships, LNG carriers, and bulk carriers, among others. The fleet operates on more than 50 lines and includes tramper services as well. One hundred million tons of cargo is transported by Hanjin every year.
The company employs more than 5,000 workers around the world with regional headquarters in Southeast Asia, Asia, Europe, and the U.S. Although it is one of the biggest shippers in the world, Hanjin has faced tough economic times. It recently requested debt restructuring from its creditors to avoid bankruptcy. The company has also faced accidents over the years, due to both negligence and the inherent risks involved in shipping.
History as a Maritime Company
Choon Hoon Cho founded Hanjin Container Lines Ltd. in 1977 and the company quickly grew and expanded by acquiring more ships and adding to its international lines. In 1978 the company was shipping regularly to the Middle East and by 1979 had established regular routes to the west coast of the United States. By 1983 that service was weekly.
Hanjin added reefer service, or refrigerated container shipping, to its lineup of services in 1986 and opened its first dedicated terminal at the Port of Seattle. In 1987 it added train service in the U.S. 1988 saw a merger with KSC and the new name for the company became Hanjin Shipping Company. The company added another terminal, at Long Beach in California, in 1991.
In the 1990s Hanjin hit a number of milestones, including being the first Korean shipping company to hit sales over one trillion. It also had the country’s first ship with a TEU capacity of over 4,000, the first female maritime officer, and opened up a new transatlantic route. Hanjin continued to grow to the present by new mergers and new, more innovative ships and eventually became a world leader in shipping services and logistics.
Operations and Services
Hanjin handles millions of TEU worth of cargo and containers each year and is one of the top ten largest container shippers in the world. It also has a variety of services and types of operations. Container shipping is the largest part of the company, and a type of operation that has grown the most since the founding of Hanjin. The container fleet includes 104 vessels, most with large TEU capacity, including the largest ship, the Korea, with a TEU capacity over 10,000.
In addition to container lines, Hanjin operates bulk carriers, which mostly ship raw materials and energy production resources. The bulk carrier fleet includes dry bulk carriers, as well as LNG carriers for crude oil, and chemical carriers. Along with shipping, Hanjin offers ship yard repairs, mostly from its large shipyard in China, and terminal services. Hanjin operates 13 different terminals around the world, as well as logistics centers and container yards. The home terminal, called Hanjin, is located in Busan.
Commitment to Safety
Container and other types of shipping are dangerous, especially for the workers doing the everyday jobs on ships and in ports. Hanjin claims to have a commitment to safety and to providing adequate resources to workers, installing risk management policies, providing training to all workers, and providing a save working environment for all employees.
The safety management program at Hanjin is called Safety 365. It includes exhaustive prevention plans divided into categories such as loss of life, equipment malfunction, operational accidents, and others. Each category gets a set of detailed prevention plans, including education about safety leadership for workers, and safety management plans to prevent human error.
No matter how committed to safety a maritime company like Hanjin tries to be, accidents are bound to happen. Workers are at risk every day on these jobs because of the potential for accidents. Sometimes it is a local ecosystem that is at risk when container and bulk carrier ships have accidents. Hanjin was connected to one such infamous accident when a ship, later renamed the Hanjin Venezia collided with a tower of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The collision resulted in a major oil spill into the San Francisco Bay, which caused a huge amount of environmental damage. The worker piloting the ship was found to have been using prescription drugs that he did not report using. This likely caused him to be unable to use the radar and electronic navigation charts and resulted in the devastating collision.
Hanjin also saw an accident in Indonesia’s Sunda Strait in 2015 when its ship, the Aqua ran aground. The ship was traveling from Adelaide, Australia to Jakarta and was carrying hazardous cargo. It ran aground in rocky, shallow waters. A breach caused the ship to take on water and it listed. Luckily no one was injured in the incident, but the accident caused Hanjin significant expense. Collisions occur all too often in container shipping and Hanjin experienced such an accident in 2013 when its Italy container ship collided with a tanker in the Port of Singapore. No injuries occurred.
Not all maritime accidents happen at sea. When a maritime company operates on shore, it can still be held responsible for worker accidents. Hanjin has a shipbuilding facility in the Philippines and during its construction at least 13 workers were killed in accidents. Such tragedies are preventable and should never have occurred. Companies employing these workers are responsible for keeping them safe, and having 13 deaths is far out of line with corporate responsibility, even if Hanjin was not the employer in charge of construction in these incidents.
There is a set of maritime laws that protect those employed by maritime workers in a number of capacities. Seamen, who work mostly on seafaring vessels, longshoremen working in ports, and even offshore oil and gas workers, have laws that protect them in the event of injury or even death. These maritime laws allow injured workers to seek some form of compensation from their maritime company employers. Dependents of workers may also seek that compensation when a loved one dies on the job.
If you are any type of maritime worker, working for any maritime company, you can use these laws to get the money you need for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. After experiencing an accident, take steps to get documented medical care and a detailed accident report, and then seek the advice of a maritime attorney. This professional will give you the advice you need to help you determine your next steps for ensuring your rights are protected.