The Hoegh Osaka vehicle transporter ship has, until recently, never grabbed much attention (unless you've even had it creep up behind you whilst sailing in the Solent - deceptively stealthy I can tell you). However, once she became beached it's a different story, queues of picnickers line the New Forest for a front row seat and the mainstream media fall over themselves to figure out what happened and why. Onlookers become local experts; quotes become misquotes and before you know it, what actually happened becomes shrouded in a fog of guesswork and hyperbole.
Having just suffered at the hands of Range Rover's legendary build quality (ahem) I know exactly what happened. On a calm day in the Solent the only forces acting on the vehicles aboard the Heogh Osaka would be the vibrations from her main engine. This would have been more than enough to shake every Range Rover on board down to its component parts. The resulting mass of nuts, bolts and cogs with all the associated engine-oil and coolant formed a thin (but very expensive) layer of debris on all the cargo decks.
Leaving her berth Hoegh Osaka will have turned towards the main shipping channel, the rudder’s turning force just enough to develop an almost imperceptible list (lean for all you non nautical types).
Usually this would be no problem for the ship and all the other vehicles but within seconds the ‘free-surface effect’ (think trying to carry water on a tray) will have turned that thin layer of Range Rover soup into a deadly sloshing mass of capsize, tons of components and fluid smashing to one side of the vessel dramatically upsetting her balance.
There are two things we can learn from this story. First; never believe what you read in the press until a professional who actually knows something has given their opinion. Second; if you are that professional, please resist the urge to open your mouth until you have conferred with other professionals and have something to say that is short, factual and not easily misconstrued.
Oh, maybe three things, don’t ever buy a Range Rover.