Owners of a Japanese ro-ro are still struggling to refloat it more than two weeks after it grounded on an island near the Inland Sea.

As TradeWinds earlier reported, Shunzan Kaiun’s 2,200-lane-metre Suou (built 2019) ran into trouble after hitting a rock on 21 November, 19 km off Matsuyama prefecture on the island of Shikoku.

The ship was evacuated and drifted for several hours before a line was secured on the vessel.

It was eventually towed to a bay near the town of Suo Oshima on the island of Yashiro, where it grounded.

The ro-ro was heading from Hakata to Yamaguchi, carrying cars and other cargo.

There are hopes that it could be refloated before the end of the year.

Shunzan Kaiun told TradeWinds that efforts are continuing to refloat the vessel but it cannot say when the operation will be completed.

Television pictures of the grounding show that the Suou has developed a serious list.

There has been no pollution, although locals have expressed concern about the potential impact on the environment.

Suo Oshima is a picturesque town known as the Hawaii of the Inland Sea.

One concern will be that a prolonged grounding may lead to a deterioration of the hull’s structural integrity, which will require a wreck-removal operation.

The incident is the second major ro-ro casualty in the Inland Sea in recent years.

In 2021, the 11,454-gt Byakko (built 2020) sank after colliding with the 3,497-dwt chemical tanker Ulsan Pioneer (built 2016).