Also known as MOL, Mitsui O.S.K Lines, Ltd. is a major international shipping company, consistently ranked in the top ten worldwide and often as the largest such company in the world. The company has a 130-year history and was founded and is still headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Although it has several subsidiaries and offers a number of related services, international container and cargo shipping are MOL’s main types of operations.
Accidents in the shipping and other maritime industries are not uncommon. It is a dangerous line of work and operating these huge ships and handling the cargo and containers is fraught with risk and potential hazards. MOL, like other such companies has had to deal with its share of accidents and embarrassing incidents. Some of these cause workers to be hurt or even killed, events for which the maritime company must take responsibility.
MOL was founded in Japan in 1964 as a merger of even older companies, one dating back to 1884. According to MOL, today it has the largest ocean-going shipping fleet of vessels in the world. The head office for MOL is in Tokyo, but the company has many offices around the world and operates out of thousands of ports. In addition to container shipping, MOL specializes in transporting raw materials in bulk carriers, and has a variety of other types of vessels, including cruise ships.
The history of MOL begins in 1884 with the founding of Osaka Shosen Kaisha, or OSK Line. It quickly became the largest shipping company in Japan. Over the following decades, leading up to World War II, the company would expand its shipping route and fleet, only to have that fleet reduced to 55 by the end of the war. It regrew its fleet and shipping services and even added such innovations as the first automated ship in the world in 1961, called the Kinkasan Maru.
In 1964 a number of mergers of Japanese shipping companies led to the creation of just six. One of these was Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, or today’s MOL. It was the result of a merger between OSK Line and Mitsui Steamship. Over the following decades and up to the present, MOL has continued to grow, adding car carriers, bulk carriers, leisure cruise ships, crude oil carriers, and some of the world’s largest ships, like the Brasil Maru, the largest iron ore carrier in the world.
The MOL fleet of vessels is impressive. The company has worked hard to keep its fleet large and up to date, competitive with any other shipping company in the world. The entire fleet numbers over 600 vessels. MOL has over 70 container ships, which is not as many as other companies, but it also has over 80 car carriers and more than 200 bulk carriers.
Additionally the company fleet includes wood chip carriers, chemical tankers, crude oil tankers, LPG and LNG carriers, as well as cruise ships and ferries. In terms of weight carried by takers and carriers, MOL out numbers most other shipping companies in the world. In some years, the company outweighs all other companies in terms of total weight across its fleet.
MOL operations are extensive and cover the globe. The company is especially known for its ability to transport cargo via specialized vessels. It has coal carriers for transporting coal, and specialized wood chip carriers, for instance. MOL transports energy products with its Very Large Crude Oil Carriers and other specialized ships. It transports cars via car carriers and containers on its fleet of container ships.
In addition to shipping cargo of various types, MOL owns and operates several terminals in locations that include Jacksonville, Florida, Vietnam, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. It operates several passenger cruise ships offering trips around the world, as well as ferries and passenger liners. MOL operates logistical operations for its customers to go along with shipping and other services.
MOL rearranged and reorganized its policies and divisions devoted to safe operations in 2015. The idea was to make communications, and therefore safety, more efficient and effective. To maintain safety and prevent accidents, MOL has a Safety Operation Supporting Center, which monitors the entire fleet and helps ship captains cope with potentially harmful situations caused by weather and other factors. The company also hosts several accident response drills at sea.
Any shipping company should have a strong commitment to safety and environmental responsibility, but that doesn’t mean that accidents won’t happen. Any seagoing business is hazardous and the operation of such large ships carrying sometimes dangerous materials is not easy. When accidents do happen, workers can be injured or killed, but preventative measures and safety drills can save lives.
One incident that MOL faced was the 2013 sinking of the Comfort, a container ship. While traveling from Singapore to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, the ship actually split in half with 26 crew members on board. Luckily those workers were able to abandon the sinking ship on life rafts. Both halves of the ship eventually sank, taking 1,500 tons of fuel oil with them.
Exactly what caused the ship to split and sink could not be determined, but two possibilities were fatigue cracks in the structure of the ship and a buckling in the bottom of the ship due to being overloaded. If workers had been killed during this incident, the company could have been found negligent in not maintaining a seaworthy vessel.
A more devastating accident occurred when MOL’s Motivator, another container ship collided with another cargo ship near Hong Kong. Damage to the Motivator was limited, but the other ship sank. One crew member was rescued, but the other eleven workers on the ship went missing and couldn’t be recovered.
If you are ever injured or killed in an incident while working as a maritime employee or contractor, you or your dependents have rights under maritime law to receive compensation. You have a right to a reasonably safe work environment and if something your maritime company employer does or does not do leads you to have an accident, you can recover monetary damages. Let a maritime lawyer help you in this situation and guide you through the process.