NYK Line is a large shipping company, whose full name is Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha. The Japanese company is one of the largest modern shipping companies in the world, but is also one of the oldest, with a foundation date of 1885. With headquarters in Tokyo, the company operates throughout the world with international offices and shipping routes. Employees number over 34,000 with about 1,200 of those maritime workers.
The work of these maritime employees is risky and dangerous. NYK, like other maritime companies, has a responsibility to its seamen to provide work environments that are reasonably safe. While NYK has suffered some unfortunate accidents at sea, it has a good overall track record for safety and the environment. Some of its ships have even rescued people at sea.
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The history of NYK Line dates back to 1885 when two other companies merged on September 29. The new company was officially inaugurated on October 1 of that year and started with 58 steamships in its merged fleet. Just one year into the new business, NYK offered its first liner service internationally, from Nagasaki, Japan to Tianjin in China. By 1893 the company had its first long distance service to Bombay, India and by 1896 it had opened an international office in London.
NYK had the distinction of the first Japanese ship to pass through the Panama Canal shortly after it opened in 1914 and changed global shipping forever. Soon after that the company began offering liner services through the Canal to New York City and eastern South America. After World War II, NYK’s fleet was down to just 37 ships, with nearly 200 lost in the war. By the early ‘50s the company was back in business, offering liner services again on international routes.
In the following decades, NYK would continue to grow and expand to become one of the modern world’s largest shipping companies. It did this through an expansion of services, including cargo plane service, terminal operations, and specialized cargo shipping, among others. The company also added passenger cruises to its lineup of services.
NYK has an impressive fleet of vessels that places it among the largest and most modernized and diversified shipping companies in the world. It has 99 container ships, 108 massive capesize bulk carriers, and 269 smaller and medium sized bulk carriers. The company also specializes in carrying automobiles with 119 car carriers in its fleet. Additionally the fleet includes 47 wood chip carriers, 68 tankers, 29 liquified natural gas carriers, 41 multi-use carriers, and one cruise ship. The fleet totals 782 vessels.
NYK operates globally in a number of sectors. Shipping is the main focus of NYK Lines, offering liner trade for a variety of cargo types, air cargo transportation, and logistics. Bulk shipping is the main industry for NYK with the company engaging in car transport, liquid transport, offshore transport of oil and petroleum products, and dry bulk transport.
In addition to shipping, NYK Line offers cruising services aboard the one cruise ship in the fleet, the Asuka II. Most of the voyages it offers are around Japan, but the ship also takes longer cruises to other locations in Asia. NYK also has a real estate division and a division devoted to research and development in shipping and logistics.
Safety and Accidents
NYK strives to create safe work environments for its employees and to prevent environmental disasters through training and safety policies. One strategy that the company uses is to stage drills that mimic situations that could really happen. For instance, a drill might include the scenario of a power outage on an LNG tanker that leads to a collision, a fire, and missing crew members. NYK operates such drills every summer.
The company is so dedicated to these drills because it hopes to prevent another major disaster such as the major spill into Tokyo Bay from the large crude oil tanker Diamond Grace. The spill of millions of gallons of crude oil produced a huge oil slick and cost a lot of environmental and economic damage to the region. The accident occurred when the ship ran aground in shallow waters, and while the pilot and captain were questioned they were not ultimately blamed for the incident.
NYK has experienced other, less serious accidents with its large ships since, including a 2014 collision between the car carrier Lord Vishnu and two barges near Singapore. No spills occurred, but the ship suffered significant damage. Sometimes these incidents lead to injured workers as was the case in 1985 when a longshoreman removing vehicles from an NYK carrier fell from the ramp because he had not been warned about a gap.
When workers are injured in these incidents they have a right to sue the company for monetary damages. The above worker was seriously injured and blame can be found for lack of communication. NYK has had such accidents, but it has also saved lives. In 2015, for example, the car carrier Hermes Leader rescued 336 people stranded in the Mediterranean Sea and brought them to safety at the Port of Augusta in Sicily.
Rights of Maritime Workers
NYK may have a solid reputation for keeping workers safe, but it still has accidents and sometimes people get hurt or oil is spilled into sensitive environments. When a worker is injured doing a job for a maritime company, there are certain rights and maritime laws involved. If a worker believes the company was negligent, he can sue for monetary damages, but there are also specific laws that allow these workers to seek the compensation they are owed.
If you work for a maritime company you can use maritime laws that apply to you to seek compensation after an accident causes you to be injured. Make sure you consult with a maritime lawyer to find out which laws apply to you and your situation. Always make this consultation before signing or agreeing to anything your employer offers. This is the only way to ensure you won’t be cheated out of the compensation you deserve.