MARITIME | Putting MSC’s boot in

Shipowners are traditionally reticent to comment on casualties, which is why MSC’s reaction to the Chitra collision has raised eyebrows

MUCH to the frustration of generations of maritime journalists, shipowners are traditionally reticent to comment on casualties, at least until the accident investigation report is in.

So we confess to slight surprise at Mediterranean Shipping Co’s decision to come out fighting after the collision between boxship MSC Chitra and a bulk carrier, which closed down Jawaharlal Nehru and Mumbai for the best part of a week.

Within days, MSC issued a statement putting the blame on the other guys, on the basis of what it says is the black box data. Whether that assertion is fair or not will be revealed in due course.

Strangely enough, the Geneva-based outfit is regarded as one of the more publicity shy concerns among the shipping world’s big boys. However, the reasons for the move are quite understandable.

We live in a 24/7 rolling news culture, and the enforced shutdown of emerging India’s most important container facility is a big story. Media attention will have been constant.

There is also the issue of who will foot the clean-up costs, a headache highlighted by the Deepwater Horizon events.

There have been suggestions that India’s government was initially inclined to blame MSC for the bunker spill, which would be quite unjust if MSC Chitra was blameless for what happened to it.

Most of us remember the stigma that attached to snitches in our school days. But as the famous rugby saying goes, sometimes it really is best to get your retaliation in first.



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