|Insignia of the South Korean "coast guard"|
Yoo Byung-eun was a reclusive South Korean Billionaire and owner of the ferry that capsized with so many school children aboard in the early Spring. If you followed our coverage and analysis of that event you may recall that we predicted that the proximate cause was probably a stability problem that slipped past the regulators of maritime safety in Korea. The ship had an additional deck installed, a major modification that drastically affects stability and would require extensive stability enhancing counter features that we just didn't see in our admittedly cursory look at the ship's designs.
We mentioned at the time that while the parents of the lost, and the South Korean general public were calling the Captain a "murderer" we were cautioning that accidents often are the result a complex causation matrix. It is quite possible that the owner got a faulty but cheaper design modification past the authorities leaving the Captain with a "stability letter" that the Captain had every reason to believe was adequate to insure stability but in fact contained the very conditions that would eventually be the ship's undoing.
Police and prosecutors had been seeking Yoo Byung-eun for weeks and had offered a reward. The ferry owner's death was unclassified at this writing.. He was found outside in an agricultural area in badly decomposed condition. Meanwhile the investigation into the accident continues, the Captain , Engineer and at least one senior deck officer were arrested at one point in the on going investigation. However by all accounts that we are aware of the ship's officers are cooperating with the investigation.
We provide a link to an AOL story on the discovery of the body and some biographical detail on the ferry owner. We previously published most of the biographical details, the AOL story has more details of the gradual mounting suspicions about the ferry owner and more details on the discovery of the body and its condition. Our analytic position remains unchanged we feel the accident was the result of a complex causation matrix and not a single error or omission on the part of the Captain. We feel that a design short coming related to additional deck is a primary causation element. We suspect that this flaw got past the regulators and possibly the professional judgement of the naval architects involved through the deliberate manipulations of the owner. For example one naval architect may have been contracted to design the new deck and was told that mitigating stability factors would be designed by another firm, and of course was assured that the entire modification would under go inspection by the Korean "coast guard". How the Korean Inspection service missed the flaw is unknown. But we are confident that it will all come out in the end.
Link to AOL story & Photos
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