Marin Researches Korean Ferry Accident

Dutch research institute Marin has completed a test programme researching the Sewol Ferry Disaster.

The sinking of MV Sewol, also referred to as the Sewol Ferry Disaster, occurred on the morning of 16 April 2014, when the passenger/ro-ro ferry was en route from Incheon towards Jeju in South Korea. The Japanese-built South Korean ferry sank while carrying 476 people, mostly secondary school students from Danwon High School (Ansan City). In total, 304 passengers and crew members died in the disaster.

The captain and three crew members were charged with murder, while the other eleven members of the crew were indicted for abandoning the ship.

Uncovering the Cause

The Korean Sewol Investigation Commission (SIC) has tasked Marin as an indepent research institute to uncover the causes of the ferry’s capsizing as well as its sinking so fast by means of model tests and simulations. Marin undertook extensive tests in its test bassins in Wageningen, the Netherlands, using two scale models of the Sewol.

Tests were performed in the presence of SIC representatives, family members of the victims and the Korean press. The SIC has chosen for maximum transparency in its approach.

Two Scale Models and Computer Simulations

Marin started the investigation with computer simulations followed by extensive model tests of the capsizing. To do so, a 6 m freesailing model was built equipped with working propellers, rudders and stabilisers. The shifting containers, cars and trucks were modelled as well.

Subsequently, more tests were carried out using a 5 m model in which all compartments, tanks and inflow openings were accurately reconstructed to scale to investigate flooding and sinking.

Finally, the orders and interventions of the bridge crew were investigated using the large navigation simulator.

Results Forthcoming

In the coming weeks, the results will be analysed and will hopefully shed light on the causes of the accident. The conclusions of this research will also be important for future national and international legislation for ferries and cruise ships.