The Japanese iron ore bulk cargo ship Wakashio hit a reef on July 25 on the coast of Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island country. More than ten days later, about 1,000 tons of heavy oil on board the ship leaked. Mauritius declared an “environmental emergency”.
The merchant ship Mitsui, the charterer of the cargo ship, announced the cause of the crash on the reef of Wakaside on December 18.
Merchant Shipping Mitsui Circular
It was found that two days before the incident (July 23), the freighter changed its sailing plan from 22 nautical miles from the coast of Mauritius to 5 nautical miles. In general, passing ships do not enter the territorial waters of Mauritius.
On the day of the accident (July 25), in order to receive the mobile phone signal of Mauritius and fine-tune the route, the crew set it to be only two nautical miles offshore. However, when approaching the coast, they did not use accurate charts, and neglected the use of radar or visual observation to grasp the correct offshore distance and water depth.
Eventually, the freighter hit a reef at a distance of only 0.9 nautical miles offshore and only 10 meters deep. It was later found that the freighter had also approached the coast many times before, and the crew may have become accustomed to this dangerous operation.
The Mauritius Coast Guard said that it noticed that the freighter was unusually approaching the shore before the accident, and issued a warning by radio. However, the merchant ship Mitsui said that no record of warnings had been found on the freighter.
There are 20 crew members on board, including 3 Indian citizens, 16 Filipino citizens and 1 Sri Lankan citizen. Previously, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, a 58-year-old Indian captain, and Sri Lankan first mate were arrested by the Mauritian police.