“K” Line is a shipping business, with the full name Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. It was founded in Japan nearly 100 years ago and now is one of the largest transportation businesses in that country and in the top 20 largest shipping companies in the world. It has a large fleet of vessels that ships containers and other types of cargo all over the world on multiple routes. The “K” Line containers, red with the distinctive logo, are among the most recognized and specialized in the world.
The maritime industry is a dangerous one, and no matter what preventative measures “K” Line takes to protect its fleet and the people who work in its vessels, accidents happen. When a maritime company experiences the kind of accident that hurts or even kills workers, it has a responsibility to compensate that person or their family. Workers in turn need to know their rights under maritime law.
About “K” Line
“K” Line was founded in Japan in 1919 and is a diversified cargo transportation company. While shipping and container shipping in particular is its specialty, the company also offers other services like specialty shipping. “K” Line is particularly known for its ability to cater to individual and specialized shipping needs and a variety of types of cargo. It has a range of shipping containers that can handle all types of cargo, including hanging garments and refrigerated goods.
The company was founded in 1919 as Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. By 1926 “K” Line had become the 13th largest shipping line in the world. Its fleet contained around 50 ships and it followed regular routes that served Asia, North and South America, Africa, the Mediterranean, and Northern Europe. When World War II began the ships were needed for the war effort and by the end of the war “K” Line had only 12 left.
Rebuilding after the war, “K” Line had to add ships to its fleet and that included refloating at least one ship that had sunk. It also had to reestablish routes. The first to be reopened was the route between Japan and Bangkok. Service resumed in 1951. Over the subsequent decades the company continued to grow and added different kinds of shipping services and vessels, like tankers for transporting petroleum products and specialized iron ore carriers.
Containerization for “K” Line began in 1968 with the company’s first container ship the Golden Gate Bridge, which served the route between Japan and California. The company also began opening terminals at ports, including its first at Long Beach in Southern California. “K” Line has continued to add to its fleet, to offer new services, and to open new terminals, growing to be one of the biggest shipping companies in the world.
Fleet and Operations
In total the “K” Line numbers 541 vessels. This includes 70 container ships. The company also has 361 bulk carriers, including dry bulk vessels that can carry wood ships, coal, iron ore, grains, pulp, and other specialty cargo, as well as car carriers. “K” Line is a pioneer in transporting automobiles and was one of the first companies to use carriers completely devoted to carrying vehicles.
“K” Line’s fleet also includes 48 tankers for energy transportation. They carry liquefied natural gas, crude oil, and other oil products in specialized tankers. The company also operates vessels that take supplies to and from offshore oil and gas platforms. These support vessels are crucial to conducting business in the offshore industry in the North Sea.
“K” Line has several policies and management strategies in place to prevent accidents that can harm workers. These include the safety management system, or SMS. This includes extensive training for employees tailored to the different types of ships in the fleet. The company conducts regular safety audits to ensure that the SMS is being used and adhered to strictly.
Other ways in which “K” Line puts safety into practice include quality management. The company strives to ensure that its ships are constructed properly and operated correctly through a quality management system. It also has an emergency response manual and conducts regular emergency response drills to prepare workers for the worst and to make sure they react quickly and effectively.
The shipping industry is full of hazards and all maritime companies, including “K” Line have experienced accidents. One example occurred in 2015 when a “K” Line LNG carrier collided with a Dutch ship offshore from Zeebrugge, Belgium. The Dutch ship was smaller and the collision forced it to run aground at a sand bank where it became partially submerged and began to leak oil. “K” Line’s ship suffered less damage, but thankfully no one was hurt in the incident.
It isn’t always ships at sea that put maritime workers at risk. Sometimes longshoremen working in ports and terminals are also at risk. A longshoreman was hurt on the “K” Line ship the Golden Gate Bridge as it was docked at Long Beach. A member of a crane gang, the worker boarded the ship and slipped on some grease that a ship worker had applied. He fell and severely injured his lower back.
Workers and Maritime Law
The worker described above sought compensation for his injury by taking advantage of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. He used the law to take action against “K” Line, which he believed to be negligent in the accident that left him with a permanent injury. Laws like this one are in place for just this reason. When a maritime worker is hurt on the job, he may face expensive medical bills, lost wages, and even lost future wages if he cannot return to work immediately or ever.
Maritime law is in place to protect workers in a dangerous industry. When a maritime company tries to shirk its duty to protect workers and provide compensation, these laws give workers an outlet to seek justice and the money the need to survive. If you find yourself injured from a maritime job, let an experienced lawyer help you apply these laws to your situation and help you seek compensation.