The parametric rolling of modern containerships is emerging as a serious problem. Due to the shape of the hull of a container ship (narrow relative to length) the buoyancy shifts due to the change of the under water volume, when the waves are coming from the quarter causes a virtual decrease of GM. If the GM is not sufficient and if a safety margin is not applied this can lead to this problem. The solution is simple, change of course and/or speed or fill up the double bottom tanks to increase GM. Another possibility is to install anti-roll tanks.
It is possible to predict what are the safe course and speed to avoid this to happen. Changing course on the MSC Zoe while sailing in the buoy route in the German Bight is impossible, but changing speed, that is decreasing the speed is. However, vessels often have to sail exactly on schedule because of berth availability, also it has to leave on time to free the berth for the next ship. Under these circumstances it is difficult to decrease speed. Increasing speed in heavy weather is also not an option. All in all the conclusion is that this was, in my opinion, an avoidable accident.
IMO has published circular 1228, the REVISED GUIDANCE TO THE MASTER FOR AVOIDING DANGEROUS SITUATIONS IN ADVERSE WEATHER AND SEA CONDITIONS which also deals with this phenomenon, see the annex on page 6
for more details.