After the purchase, Chonghaejin Marine made extensive modifications by adding cabins to the third, fourth, and fifth decks to accommodate additional 117 passengers. The modifications led to The increase in weight by 239 tons which increased the VCG with 0,51 m, decreasing the KR’s authorized cargo capacity by half to 987 tons, and increasing the KR’s required 1,703 tons of water to serve as ballast to provide balance, which was four times more than the previous ballast requirement, 370 tons. The modifications were later found to have been based on an illegal redesign of the ship. After the inspections 37 tons of marble were also illegally added to the gallery room at the bridge deck, on a high place, on the back of the ship.
Throughout the previous year of the incident the regular captain had warned the company about the decrease in stability and passenger satisfaction and attributed it to the removal of the side ramp, but the company responded by threatening to fire him; the last warning and threat was on 9 April 2014, seven days before the incident. The captain had also requested a repair for the malfunctioning steering gear on 1 April 2014, which was not done. The on duty helmsman complained later that the rudder at one moment didnot respond. Overloading and improperly secured cargo were seen as the direct causes of the capsizing and sinking of the ship. The MV Sewol was carrying 3,608 tons of cargo, more than three times the limit of 987 tons!
Apart from the load line there were no further tools available such as:
Quantitative methods or tools for assessing the total weight of both cargo and vehicles on the ferry.
Quantitative methods or tools for assessing ballast water in the ferry.
Adequate emergency system: Anti-heeling pumps to return the ferry to its upright position did not work.
The only quantitative measurement for assessing the total weight of both cargo and vehicles was the load line.
The third mate Park had previously received instructions from the regular captain that turns over five degrees should be performed with care, as Sewol’s restoring force was low. The expert advisory panel on the police-prosecution joint investigation team later agreed that a turn greater than five degrees made under any conditions would have upset the ferry, concluding that she was in no shape to carry passengers.
The first mate had complained to the associate manager at Logistics team, Kim, Jung-Soo about the ferry’s severe rolling when it was traveling on windy days. The associate manager did not accept the complaints. He had also observed that the regular Captain complained to the associate manager about the overloading, but no corrections were made. Therefore, he simply stopped making the complaints. I suppose that if you had asked them about the GZ curve that they would have looked at you with a bewildered, stupified expression on their faces, how were those people trained? Did they never learn, not even the basics of Ship Stability during their nautical education?
This is a picture of criminal behavior that in the 19th century led to the establishment of the Plimsoll mark. However, it is clear that this means little if you intentionally overload the ship and pump out ballast water until the load line surfaces.
Overseeing the whole incident I think that Chief Executive Kim Han-sik, as overlords generally do, got away very benignly with only 10 years of imprisonment while the captain, not being the regular captain, got a full life sentence. A remarkable difference.