I often use visuals in my supply chain risk management workshops, since visuals can have more impact on thinking than sometimes words. Therefore, this visual of a container ship listing at 80 degrees,(shown below)  losing its container cargo and polluting nearby waters with harmful substances certainly caught my attention. Another common tenet of major incidents is that initial reports and assessments are often conflicting, and this incident again brought this situation to light.

On Saturday, August 7th, two vessels collided about 10 kilometers outside the port of Mumbai in India.  The Panamanian-registered MSC Chitra, a container ship, and the break-bulk merchant vessel Khalija-III were involved in this accident. Thirty three crew members were reported rescued.  As is usual for these types of incidents, there were initial conflicting media and governmental reports as to the location and details of the accident and collateral damage.

The MSC Chitra was loaded with more than 2400 containers, 2600 tonnes of oil and 300 tonnes of diesel fuel, and as of yesterday, 300 loaded containers had already sunk into nearby waters.  Some of these containers were reported to include toxic materials such as sodium peroxide. A rather thick oil slick was surrounding the vessel. This ship had sailed to Mumbai from Dubai, and was outbound from JNPT port facility when the collision occurred. The Khalija-III was apparently towed into port after the incident.

The port of Mumbai remains closed as India’s Coast Guard and other governmental agencies work to salvage both the vessel and the spilled containers, some of which are floating in the main ship channel.  The port is expected to be closed for several more days.

India media reports indicate that as of Monday, there were over 80 ships waiting at sea for unloading at berths at the three JN Port terminals, and some are expected to be diverted to other ports.  Indian officials have also filed maritime charges against the two captains of the vessels.

Supply chain disruption and risk is occurring more frequently across the globe.  We recently commented on numerous occurrences in China and other areas of the globe, and it seems that accidents along with oil and chemical spills are becoming all too frequent. The need for a supply chain risk identification and mitigation strategy is ever more apparent.

Bob Ferrari