MOL reported that the MOL-operated iron ore carrier Giant Step went aground offshore Kashima Port in Ibaragi Prefecture about 5:20 p.m. on October 6, 2006. Of 26 crewmembers, two lost their lives and eight are missing and the company is now working to confirm their status; 13 were rescued by Japan Coast Guard helicopters, and three, including two who are now in the hospital, drifted ashore on the coast.

The Giant Step sailed from Port Walcott, Australia, with 190,000 tons of iron ore on September 11, 2006. The ship arrived off Kashima Port on September 25, and anchored while standing by for an open pier. The ship weighed anchor and started to move offshore to avoid a rapidly growing atmospheric depression. However, the ship was unable to complete the maneuver because of a faulty anchor windlass. Subsequently, winds in excess of 20-30 mps blew the ship aground 2 km offshore in 16 meters of water.

The Giant Step ran onto a sandy area and suffered excessive force on particular parts of the ship’s hull and was affected by the storm and waves. The hull cracked and broke into three segments. Oil spills from the stern segment and drifting iron ore powder have been observed. MOL will start extracting bunker oil from the hull as soon as the wave action calms enough to make the work feasible.

MOL expresses its deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved families of the crew members who lost their lives.