Explosion on the MSC Flaminia: Stolt-Nielsen to pay $290 million

Explosion on the MSC Flaminia: Stolt-Nielsen to pay $290 million
Explosion on the MSC Flaminia: Stolt-Nielsen to pay $290 million

Twelve after the tragic fire of the container ship MSC Flaminia, the procedure should end with, as permitted by American law, a transaction which will see the Stolt-Nielsen group, loader on board the ship, having to pay 290 million dollars to Coti, owner of the vessel and MSC its time charterer. This amicable agreement comes a little less than a year after the New York Court of Appeal rejected the appeal brought by the Stolt Tank Containers group, a subsidiary of Stolt-Nielsen, and Deltech, its freight forwarder, in the context of the trial following the accident. She found them both responsible and sentenced them. This transaction therefore closes this procedure.

For the record, on July 14, 2012, while in transit between the American port of Charleston and Le Havre, the explosion of a container in the hold caused a violent fire on board this 300-meter container ship. long. The ship, which was in the middle of the Atlantic, 1000 nautical miles from the nearest land point, had on board a crew of 25 German, Polish and Filipino sailors who, after battling the fire, were forced to evacuate the boat.

The final toll will be one missing, one dead having succumbed to his injuries and three injured. As for the ship, which burned for a long time and whose survival was considered a miracle for some, it was finally recovered by the ocean-going tug Fairmount Expedition and taken to Germany after crossing the Channel and the Strait of Pas-de-Calais. It was then repaired at the Daewoo yards in Mangalia, Romania.

Stolt Tank Containers had 29 tank containers on board MSC Flaminia. They were all located near the scene of the explosion. In 2013, the shipowner MSC filed a complaint against the shipper, believing that the explosion was linked to three Stolt containers whose nature and dangerousness of the cargo had not been adequately reported.

© An article from the editorial staff of Mer et Marine. Reproduction prohibited without consent of the author(s).

After twelve years, the legal battle over the fatal explosion on the “MSC Flaminia” has concluded with a settlement. The Stolt-Nielsen Group agreed to pay up to $290 million in compensation, acknowledging partial responsibility for the accident.

The explosion occurred on July 1, 2012, as the “MSC Flaminia” was traveling from Charleston, US, to Antwerp, Belgium. The ship, carrying 6,500 TEUs, caught fire due to the spontaneous polymerization of a chemical (DVB) inside tank containers, leading to an explosion. Three crew members died, and the remaining 20 people onboard were rescued.

The subsequent legal dispute involved multiple parties. The ship’s owners, managers, and operators initially blamed Stolt Tank Containers and Deltech for not adequately warning of the cargo’s dangers. A 2018 court ruling found Stolt 45% and Deltech 55% responsible. Appeals followed, but in June 2023, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the initial ruling.

Besides the settlement, Conti, the ship’s owner, sought arbitration against MSC, the charterer, for losses incurred. In 2021, an arbitrator awarded Conti $200 million.


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MSC’s attempts to limit its liability under the 1976 Convention on the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims were largely unsuccessful, with the British High Court and the Court of Appeal rejecting most claims for liability limitation.

Consequently, MSC was held liable for various costs associated with the accident and lost revenue while the vessel was out of service.



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