A nautical problem

10th July, 2013

Here’s a little probability exercise. My wife and I are having some things shipped to UK from Japan, on board the container ship MOL Comfort. On 17th June, the ship broke clean in half. (Click on the pictures for more details.)

Breaking in Half

 

The crew escaped, and for the next 10 days, the two halves of the ship drifted apart in the Arabian Ocean, each laden with containers.

Broken in Half

 

On 27th June, the rear half sank with all its cargo, in 4km of water.

The aft sinks

 

Meanwhile the front half began to be towed (backwards) towards Oman.

The fore under tow

 

Since 6th July, the front section has been on fire.

The fore on fire

 

The salvage company/coastguard estimate that approximately 90% of the front half’s cargo has already been burnt. Further, because of the possible presence of dangerous chemicals among the cargo, along with large quantities of oil within the hull, they fear the risk of explosion.

 

Exercise
Estimate the probability that our stuff is:

  1. at the bottom of the ocean
  2. on fire
  3. unharmed

 

Extension
Assuming that our stuff has survived so far, estimate the probability that it is:

  1. going to blow up
  2. going to sink
  3. going to reach us safe and sound

 

Update: did you guess right?

The fore half continued burning until its balance was so out of kilter that it sank. It didn’t explode.

The End of the MOL Comfort, 10th July 2013

   

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