MV Sewol

MV Sewol (Hangul: 세월호, Hanja:世越號, Beyond the World)[1][note 1] was a South Korean vehicle-passenger ferry, built and previously operated in Japan. It operated between Incheon and Jeju. On 16 April 2014, Sewol capsized and sank with the loss of 304 passengers and crew. Multiple documentaries have been made about this tragedy, ranging from The New Yorker to Asian Boss.

MV Sewol
MV Sewol at Incheon in March 2014
  • Ferry Naminoue (1994–2012)
  • Sewol (2013–2014)
Port of registry:
  • Naze, Japan (1994–2012)
  • Incheon, South Korea (2012–2014)
Builder: Hayashikane Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd., Nagasaki, Japan
Yard number: 1006
Launched: 13 April 1994
Completed: June 1994
Identification: IMO number: 9105205
Fate: Capsized and sank on 16 April 2014
General characteristics
Type: RoPax ferry
Length: 145.61 m (477 ft 9 in)
Beam: 22.00 m (72 ft 2 in)
Draught: 6.26 m (20 ft 6 in)
Depth: 14.00 m (45 ft 11 in)
Installed power:
  • 2 × Diesel United-Pielstick 12PC2-6V-400
  • 11,912 kW (15,974 hp) (combined)
Speed: 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph)
  • As Sewol: 921 passengers, 88 cars, 60 8-ton trucks
  • As Ferry Naminoue: 804 passengers, 90 cars, and 60 trucks
Crew: 35


Sewol was a RoPax ferry that was built by the Japanese company Hayashikane Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd. (Japanese: 林兼船渠) in 1994.[2] At 146 m (479 ft) in length[3] and 22 m (72 ft) in width,[4] she could carry 921 passengers,[5] or a total of 956 persons, including the crew.[6] She had a legal capacity for 180 vehicles and 154 regular cargo containers.[7] The maximum speed of the ship was 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph).[8]


The ferry was originally known as Ferry Naminoue (Japanese: フェリーなみのうえ)[9] between 1994 and 2012, and had been operated in Japan for almost 18 years without any accidents.[2] In 2012, the ship was later bought for 11.6 billion (US$11.3 million) by Chonghaejin Marine Company, controlled by the family of businessman Yoo Byung-eun.[10][11] The ship was renamed Sewol, and refurbished.[12] Modifications included adding extra passenger cabins on the third, fourth, and fifth decks, raising the passenger capacity by 117, and increasing the weight of the ship by 239 tons.[13][14] After regulatory and safety checks by the Korean Register of Shipping,[12] the ship began her operation in South Korea on 15 March 2013.[15] The ship made three round-trips every week from Incheon to Jeju.[16] In February 2014 it was reported that Sewol again passed a vessel safety inspection by the South Korean Coast Guard following an intermediate survey to ensure the ship remained in a general condition which satisfied requirements set by the Korean Register of Shipping.[17]


On the evening of 15 April 2014, Sewol departed Incheon for a standard overnight crossing to Jeju Island. She was manned by a total of 33 crew and was carrying 443 passengers, 325 of whom were secondary students from Danwon High School in Ansan. The following morning, Sewol capsized and sank 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) off Donggeochado, Jindo County, South Jeolla Province.[18] Of the 476 people onboard, there were only 172 survivors. 304 of those on board died, 250 of whom were Danwon students.[19]

The South Korea government's Board of Audit and Inspection revealed that the Korean Register's licensing was based on falsified documents.[20] After the incident, the company reported that the ship was carrying 124 cars, 56 trucks, and 1157 tons of cargo.[21] The amount of cargo carried was twice the legal limit.[22]

On 12 February 2015, Kim Kyung-il, the coastguard captain, was sentenced to four years in prison.[23]


In April 2015 a technical report concluded that it was feasible to raise the wreck of Sewol and President Park said she hoped that it would be carried out as soon as possible.[19] Following the receipt of tenders from salvage companies, it was announced on 15 July 2015 that a consortium led by China's Shanghai Salvage Company was the favoured bidder, at a cost of 85.1 billion won (US$74.6 million).[24]

On 22 March 2017, salvage operation began to raise the wreck of sunken Sewol.[25] The vessel was raised on 23 March.[26] The wreck was moved onshore at Mokpo on 12 April.[27] The vessel will be searched for the remains of the nine missing victims.[28]

While the lifted ferry was transported on board a semi-submersible vessel, its weight was estimated to be 17,000 tonnes, including the contribution of remaining mud inside. In terms of weight and number of axle-lines (600), it doubled the world record for a transport by SPMTs.[29]


  1. Kim (김), MyungJi (명지) (24 April 2014). [세월호 참사 / 유병언 一家 비리의혹] 세월호의 '세월(世越)'은 '세상을 초월'… 유씨 自稱 '아해'는 '야훼(하나님)'를 의미 [[MV Sewol Capsizing / Yu ByungIn one family suspected corruption] MV Sewol's 'Sewol' is 'beyond the world'... Yu's 'Yaheh' is 'Yahweh (God).'] (in Korean). Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  2. Kim, Cynthia; Cha, Seonjin; Kim, Sam (24 April 2014). "Divers Continue Search as Ferry Probe Turns to Cargo". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  3. Williamson, Lucy (16 April 2014). "South Korea ferry: Hundreds missing as ship sinks". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  4. Yun (윤), JungHye (정혜) (16 April 2014). 침몰 세월호 20년 된 노후선...재작년 日서 도입 [The capsized Sewol, an old ship that's 20 years old... brought in last year from Japan] (in Korean). Channel A. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  5. Borowiec, Steven (16 April 2014). "Nearly 300 Missing after South Korea ferry sinks". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  6. Kim, Sam; Kang, Shinhye (22 April 2014). "Grief Turns to Anger at Government Over Ferry Sinking". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  7. Bae, Ji-sook (20 April 2014). "[Ferry Disaster] 'Overload, massive extension might have caused disaster'". The Korea Herald. Herald Corporation. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  8. Han (한), JiHo (지호); Joo (주), YoungMin (영민) (16 April 2014). 진도 여객선 침몰사고 세월호는?(종합) [Jindo Ferry capsizing accident, the Sewol? (compiled)] (in Korean). News1 Korea. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  9. "Sunken ferry once plied Japan's seas". The Japan Times. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  10. "The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea – Greed Was Biggest Culprit in Ferry Disaster". 6 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  11. "Chonghaejin Marine's 'real' owner hunted". The Korea Times. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  12. Kwon, Judy; Lah, Kyung (27 April 2014). "Ferry disaster's toll on South Korea's national psyche". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  13. "Families angrily confront officials over South Korea ferry search". 24 April 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  14. McKirdy, Euan; Cha, Frances (18 April 2014). "South Korea's Sewol ferry disaster: The challenge ahead". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  15. "Sewol Operator Routinely Overloaded Ferry". 7 May 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  16. "Hopes fade of finding Sewol survivors". Jeju Weekly. 21 April 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  17. =침몰한 세월호, 1994년 일본서 건조 [The capsized Sewol, built by a ship company in 1994] (in Korean). Kyunghyang Shinmun. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  18. 동거차도에서 본 이 시각 구조 현장 [Current Rescue Scene as seen from Donggeochado] (in Korean). YTN. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  19. Park, Madison; Hancocks, Paula (16 April 2015). "Sewol ferry disaster: One year on, grieving families demand answers". CNN. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  20. Kwon, K.J.; Yan, Holly (9 July 2014). "Report: S. Korean ferry operators prioritized profits over safety". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  21. Choe, Sang-hun (6 May 2014). "4 Employed by Operator of Doomed South Korean Ferry Are Arrested". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  22. Jenkins, Nash (9 July 2014). "South Korean Ferry Was Operating Illicitly, State Report Says". TIME. Retrieved 15 September 2014. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  23. "South Korean coast guard captain jailed for 4 years over botched Sewol rescue". CNN. 12 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  24. Kim, Tong-Hyung. "South Korea chooses company to lift sunken Sewol ferry". CTV News (15 July 2015). Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  25. "South Korea begins operations to recover sunken Sewol ferry". CNN. 22 March 2017.
  26. "Sewol disaster ferry raised in South Korea after three years". BBC News Online. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  27. Kim, Da-sol (9 April 2017). "Sewol finally moved ashore". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  28. "Sewol Transferred to Land, Search for Remains to Start". World Maritime News. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  29. ALE break SPMT world record during complex salvage ferry operation in South Korea, 15 June 2017 (08:47), retrieved 20 December 2017. – Remaining mud as 4.000 t extra weight.


  1. The meaning has been widely, but incorrectly, reported as 'time and tide.'

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