Cargo Ship Capsizes and Sinks Following Collision

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

On Tuesday, December 25 at roughly 2PM, Amanda — a deck cargo ship operated by O&F Marine — sent out a distress call to maritime authorities following a collision that caused the ship to capsize and sink about three miles off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

According to reports, Amanda’s engine suffered damage, which caused the ship’s wheel to become inoperative and impaired steering.  Thus, disabled, Amanda drifted perilously towards an anchored ship (as of yet unnamed).  Though the captain attempted to alter the course, poor conditions, which included strong waves coupled with the impaired steering function of the vessel, prevented the captain from being able to avoiding the collision.

Malaysian search and rescue teams were sent out in multiple ships, and they rescued six of the nine total crew members aboard Amanda.  We do not know whether the three that the search continued on for, was eventually successful.  It is not clear whether any of the crew members aboard the anchored ship suffered injuries due to the collision.

The family members of the missing crew members (and any injured crew members themselves) likely have a cause of action for damages against O&F Marine.

Equipment Must Be Properly Inspected and Maintained

Operators must ensure that all ship equipment is properly inspected and maintained so that crew members (and others) are not exposed to an unreasonable risk of harm.  In the present case, Amanda’s captain admitted that the engine was damaged, which led to a number of issues, one of which was impaired steering function.

Although all mechanical equipment is prone to failure and breakdowns, Engines usually give off warning signals making the discovery of potential problems discoverable well before they cause a failure.  This of course only works if regular maintenance inspections take place and immediate adequate corrective action, either the repair or replacement of the affected part, is undertaken before the ship is allowed to depart for its next destination.

More likely than not in this case, either the operator failed to implement and enforce adequate protocols for maintenance, or the crew was negligent in conducting such maintenance.

Reasonable Caution in Heavily Trafficked Waters

The waterways along the coasts of Malaysia and Singapore are among the most congested with ship traffic worldwide.  Captains must be cautious when navigating such waters, as mechanical defects and other problems can quickly escalate into a collision.

In the present case, Amanda’s collision was due to: 1) its engines effect on its ability to steer the vessel,  2) poor weather conditions, which prevented a meaningful course altering and 3) Its proximity to the anchored vessel at the time of the steering failure.  Had any of these three elements not been present, more likely than not, the captain of the Amanda would have been able to alter the outcome that befell him.

We Can Help

If you or a loved one has suffered harm while working as a crew member — whether on a cargo ship, cruise ship, or other vessel — then you may be entitled to significant damages as compensation for your losses.  Vessel operators must exercise reasonable care to maintain a safe working environment for crew, which includes proper maintenance and the avoidance of collision hazards.

Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our team of attorneys boasts over a century of combined experience handling a wide range of maritime injury claims on behalf of crew members, many arising out of avoidable circumstances.

It is important to us that you achieve the “best possible” outcome for your case.  We work tirelessly to understand the contours of each injury claim so that we can maximize your compensation.  The efficacy of this approach is borne out by our case results.  Since our founding, we have obtained over $200 million in favorable verdicts and settlements for our clients.

Contact Lipcon today to request a meeting with an experienced maritime lawyer at our firm.