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Birthday party and quest for wifi revealed in lead up to Wakashio grounding off Mauritius

The 58-year-old captain of the ill-fated newcastlemax Wakashio could face negligence charges after it emerged the crew were celebrating a crewmember’s birthday and had headed nearer towards the Mauritius coastline to get a wifi signal just prior to the bulk carrier’s grounding on a reef off the island’s south coast.

The bombshell revelations – first reported by local newspaper L’Express – come from investigators who have interviewed the crew of the Japanese-owned, Panamanian-flagged ship.

The Wakashio grounded on a reef near UNESCO protected sites on the evening of July 25. Local authorities had been trying in vain to contact the ship ahead of the accident to warn it was on the wrong course. It transpires the crew were celebrating a birthday hence missing the initial urgent calls.

The wrecked ship, on the verge of breaking up, has since spilled around 1,000 tonnes of bunker fuel into the pristine Mauritian waters, creating the republic’s greatest ecological disaster.

The Panama Maritime Authority had earlier suggested the ship ran into difficulty because of bad weather, although data providers have shown there was no inclement weather around southern Mauritius at the time of the accident.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. But how is it possible that maritime regulations doesn’t ban birthday parties on board?

    1. Can be held without alcohol,no problem.However the vessel should be under control at all times.

      1. Because you have people on board who can’t control themselves, and don’t have a strong safety culture, you end up like the Maersk fleet, where alcohol is banned on board. Relaxing with a quiet beer in the smoke room after your watch with your colleague from the other department was a pleasant way of rounding out your day. A seafarers life is fast approaching that prevailing in a monastery. Shore leave is almost non-existent. Ships load at remote terminals on the edge of a desert. Watches are never broken in port. Sounds depressing to me.

        1. If you cant be without a drink or shoreleave for 3 or 4 months you should not concidder a seafaring carrier.
          Its a job a seroius job.More marine traffic,expensive cargo,high tech transport.The time for drink and nonchalant
          behavior on board are long gone.

          1. Asper chain of responsibility, all those in Management ashore should not consume alcohol 24/7 to be effective to deal with so many ships and problems. By so doing they are setting an example. Alternately consume responsibly and within limits except those keeping a watch or on passive duty in case of an emergency
            In this case trying to get closer to pick up a strong signal is to blame and not the alcohol. This is where the Management comes in. Why did they not provide the proper support for communication and entertainment knowing fully well the Crew were doing long stints on board.
            There are too many factors involved, so let’s wait for the investigation to be completed before jumping to conclusions. Any Company internal enquiry should not taken as gospel.
            It should be unbiased and independant

          2. I sailed for 30 years on ‘wet’ ships without incident and with fleets of vessels umbering in the hundreds.
            The consequence of dry ships is the prevalence onboard of more sinister relaxation methods, drugs.
            The idea that life onboard needs to be a matter of constant vigilance by all at all times is ridiculous. You need to be aware of your surroundings and vigilant at your workplace.
            Quality crews not yellow pack one size fits all are what is required.

        2. Hi Mr. Colín Smith.
          I agree one hundred percent In your comment.
          I’am retaired , In our times , the time without touch the land In tankers , was six months.
          We celebrate In the hotel or airplaine the back home, with the family.
          On board we follow the rules on any statement, as seaman life, times for joining In the cabin with our friends.
          Seaman’s colleages never end the “amistad” after years of distance.
          Good luck

        3. Hi Mr .Smith:
          Drinking and parties on board should be in moderation .Crew members should know to how to take responsibility in their actions,they are being given the oppurtunity by the shipowners for that.
          Look what happen to Mauritius because of personal motives,..Its best they should be given wifi access and no international sim so that the vessel would be safe from being aground because of signal issues.

          1. Wondered whether Mauritius might find it cost-effective to pay for 4G or even wifi to be made receivable much further out, and to advertise that fact to the world fleet. Would be cheaper than risking the fouling of it’s precious reefs by passing ships endangering it’s waters. Just a thought.

          2. I agree with Sir VORS CUIZON, WIFI onboard is on, so many shipping companies did not install WIFI onboard. That is one reason so many, SEAFARER cannot communicates/chats with the family or check the necessary website also to help some issues like jobs/works in troubleshooting the equipment onboard.

        4. You are totally right Captain. The good old seafarer days are slowly dissappearing. Alcohol free ships and limited shoreleave times are becoming prevelant nowadays.
          I guest thats why im changing careers.

        5. You are absolutely correct. To overcome this depression, MLC came up with many regulations one of which is Internet on board. Seems the ill- fated ship didnot have internet and the ship’s crew tried to get shore signal by going close to the coast Staff on board was putting in more than their contracted period due to the pandemic. Add no timely relief to you list. The depression becomes grave.

    2. Débile, pourquoi interdire un fête d’anniversaire. Il faut seulement des gens compétents à la tête du navire (staff)

    3. Parties are happening since decades and no accidents so far. Just for some one’s mistake we can not stop entire shipping industry to ban parties on board. See it’s a stress full life on board and nowadays shore leaves are restricted in many ports, alcohol is banned in many companies. The only way to motivate the crew from stressful monotonous work is the party and socializing on board. It’s better if multi national crews are engaged.

      1. If you cannot perform your normal duties while you are drunk. You are no worthy to be a sailor.

    4. Since nobody heard the coast radio stations‘ repeated radio calls(l assume on ch 16 vhf), obviously nobody was keeping a lookout by ear. Since nobody saw the reef in front of the ship, l can safely assume nobody was keeping a lookout by eye. Let’s see! How many senses are there left. Smell? Nah! Touch? Nah! I’d say the bridge was effectively unmanned. A proper lookout was not being kept by all means, as required by the Rules. In any case, since the ship was making a landfall, the Master should have been on the bridge, not partying below.

    5. At the end of the day it can be said with absolute confidence that if everything was being done properly as it should be this accident would never have occurred. The fact that it did shows that somebody wasn’t doing their job. This falls ultimately on the Master’s shoulders. That’s what the 4 gold stripes and film-star wages are all about. In my days as a Marine Accident Investigator with Transport Canada that is where l started my inquiries. “Where were you, Captain?” is my opening line. The only rank individually specified in the Merchant Shipping Acts is “Master”. A “competent officer” is generic and non-specific.

      1. “Where were Captain” as an opening line is to frighten the guy and probably may give him a heart attack. Should be replaced by putting the Master at ease before going through the due processes.

      2. Only fools expect the Captain at the wheel 24 hrs a day. Accidents happen in every industry. The whole world and mainly the maritime industry should be ashamed of treating seafarers like prisoners. Look at the living conditions. Look at the mattresses they sleep on. Look at the food they eat. Life is far comforting in Canadian prisons than on ships. Get over it and stop blaming the seafarers. Blame the incompetent government organizations and people who work there. There is more money being spent on sulfur in fuel than providing internet onboard. Worst enemies of the seafarers are the ex seafarers.

    6. Are you inhuman? Have you ever been at sea? Is there nothing for a seaman to look forward to? The crew was negligent in this case. But that is no reason for the entire seafaring community to suffer!

      1. Totally Agree and this is the end story of this case. It is not correct for a case all to be punished. Who issued him with a CoC ? Who attended him ? What were the previous performance records of this guy shown ? You can not blame seafarers, wifis, governments, for an idiot.

    7. Looks to me there is something else too. Now a days crew has unlimited wifi on board free so why deviate. Was the mastet aware yhat the passage plan is not in proper execution

    8. Alcohol on board is not the issue rather the hierarchy on board which does not allow juniors to question the decisions of the seniors. Same decision making as in the Costa Concordia

    9. I blame here the owner or management of the vessels. The modern crew must have continues access to the internet and all social medias regardless vessel position. The crew must have free and uninterruptible contacts with his family.
      The cost of such modern communications is very low and companies can easily afford this .
      Best regards,
      Captain Adil Salmanov.

  2. MARPOL must be reviewed: confetti and party hats banned throughout the Indian Ocean.

    1. Stop this nonsense, the .ain problem are low salaries, that drives to low quality and ineficient crews.
      Besides, the crew that spends their tour of duty of 6 and more months without shore leaves, and a proper system of communications with their families, deserves some investment from the Company to have at least a proper satcom internet.
      V/l accommodations are smaller and smaller,a living conditions sometimes awful.

  3. Professional standards are continuing to slip in international shipping. When l went to sea if you wanted to leave the bridge the Master or another officer had to be called. It was unthinkable that the bridge would be unattended while under way, but as time passes it has almost become the norm to leave it unattended for long periods on long passages. The officer class in those days was dominated primarily by NW European nationals who had a long tradition of professionalism, and a safety culture extending back hundreds of years behind them. The move to cheap crews and certificates of questionable provenance held by individuals whose main motivation is to make money for the family at home rather than a career at sea, has to be rethought. I do not disparage these people. I condemn the avarice of shipowners who trust an expensive ship and cargo, and the environment, to cheap crews of doubtful value. In my own time l relieved a German 2/O who was being paid $1600 per month, unknowingly accepting $1200 for the same job. 9 months later l was relieved by a Turk being paid $850. Almost a 50% cut in crewing costs within a year. The Dutch Auction in crew costs continues apace amongst all crew-providing nations.

    1. This comment is absolutely spot on by Captain Smith, in particular the part about certificates of questionable provenance. The standard of training is diabolical to what it was forty years ago.
      Why does this accident remind me of the MS Olivia (75,000 tonnes) which, in March 2011 steamed at full speed into Nightingale island, part of Tristan Da Cunha deep in the south Atlantic ocean whilst on a great circle course from Brazil to Singapore? They thought the radar echo ahead was simply rain and had no idea they were passing an island or that it even existed along the proposed track. I can’t get my head round this and I never will.

      1. I agree and thank you for the mention. A good post. I recall many ships where, as a junior officer, l saw hammocks rigged on the bridge wing, officers dozing on watch, the bridge unattended. All because the Master permitted it. I also remember the baffling accidents, like the two VLCC tankers that collided in broad daylight off Barbados, and the pile up of 14 ships in the Dover Straits after a major casualty. Even the USS Enterprise ran right through the wreck buoy pattern, almost hitting the accumulated wrecks. As a result l determined when Master to make activities on the bridge my primary interest, and kept it on a tight leash. “Keeping a watch a deck down” overstates it, though l was never far away.

        1. If “… the two VLCC tankers that collided in broad daylight off Barbados….” refers to the collision between the “AEGEAN CAPTAIN” and the “ATLANTIC EMPRESS” on the 19th July 1979, the “broad daylight” was a heavy thunderstorm, at 19.00pm local time. One ship was in rain and the other entered the rain.

    2. I’m from the UK and worked with many nationalites, some of the worst officers and Masters I’ve ever worked with are also from the UK and trained in the UK, some of the best officers and Masters are from places like the Phillipines, correlation does not equal causation, you can’t discriminate by colour of passport and pin someone on someones nationality.

      1. I agree and thank you for the mention. A good post. I recall many ships where, as a junior officer, l saw hammocks rigged on the bridge wing, officers dozing on watch, the bridge unattended. All because the Master permitted it. I also remember the baffling accidents, like the two VLCC tankers that collided in broad daylight off Barbados, and the pile up of 14 ships in the Dover Straits after a major casualty. Even the USS Enterprise ran right through the wreck buoy pattern, almost hitting the accumulated wrecks. As a result l determined when Master to make activities on the bridge my primary interest, and kept it on a tight leash. “Keeping a watch a deck down” overstates it, though l was never far away.

  4. Yes, it is an absurd excuse. I suspect they were trying to pick up 4G or whatever the medium is now for cell phones. I can remember lashing a huge 500 watt bulb painted silver to the top of the mast, in the hope of receiving TV in the Western Approaches.
    Regardless , there must be someone competent, sober, qualified and alert on the bridge at all times. If you’re going to do paperwork, post a lookout. The “Steller Banner” went aground run by a crew of only 20. A huge ship, pushing 400,000 tons. You can guarantee the crew were the cheapest nationals possible. The Dutch Auction in crewing costs continues unabated.

  5. During any party onboard bridge remains manned and OOW will do watchkeeping.I think OOW may be stressed by fucking paper works of company.So he lost concentration on watch.In all ships wifi is by satellite and no need to go near coast for getting it.I don’t think Mauritius is providing free wifi for those who ships going near their coastal line.

    1. Many ships do not have satellite for wi fi, it is only available when in range of shore wi fi hotspots or by using expensive mobile data by mobile phone signal. We aided in the siting of a seafarers centre provided by Stella Maris which provides continuous wifi and use of computers to allow seafarers to contact their families, it is used all the time by visiting crews.

    2. Unfortunately not ALL ships has a wifi and plenty masters are altering courses close to shore to get 4G signal for mobile without any precautions. And actually it doesnt matter if there was a party or not… About the paper work – also possible, especially in crew where the OOW is sole lookout all the time.

  6. Finally everything is attributed to human factors or human errors. I have 38 years at sea & 25 in command and ISM, MLC, PSC, CDI, SIRE and STCW are total failures in my book. Regulations have only put a burden on ship’s crews and led to fatigue and lapses caused by unbearable regulatory prohibition of basic seafarer privileges like shore leave, rest hours, a daily beer to relax etc etc. Seamen are now just psychological ticking time bombs ready to go off at the slightest further pressure ….!!!

    1. 100%true story. Nobody talks abt even this minimum safe manning factor where 20 ppl doing the 40ppl work in different ways.

    2. You nailed it. Since shoreside wanted to run the ships from the comforts of office, the professionalisms lost. Ship’s Master and crew are burdened with the regulations and paperwork came along with it. Basic practice of seamanship is non existent. Training and competency certificates means just a piece of paper. STCW is a total failure as there are no true accountability. Standard of training has gone down to such an extend that cadets are passing Bridge Watchkeeping exam in just 10 minutes in simulator without knowing a single rule and their application.

  7. The people who make the rules have never sailed at sea or literally escaped the pressures on board by running into shore jobs. They have no clue of what the problems are or how to address them. A bunch of landlubbers making the rules that govern running ships on the high seas is just not an acceptable Solution

  8. The reason for the accident will be revealed in due course. Very stupid reaction from Capt. Smith and Manolis. Do they remember nationality of Crew of Titanic, Exon Worlez, Tory Canneon and many others. Those were the most expensive crew but probably the competence was lacking.
    Premature Comments wiithout being privy to the facts is sign of imaturity.
    For sure most of the accidents including the major once mentioned above occur due to system failure.
    There is a global system in place to find the cause and put preventive measures in place.

    1. Captain Colin Smith, M.Sc. Author of Master’s dissertation on Trends and Patterns in Human Rights Violations at Sea. says:

      A not-unanticipated response. Read my post again. I am against cheap crews with doubtful or even fraudulent qualifications. I have made no assertion as to race nor nationality.In my day the cost of a fake Liberian licence was $500 in Sweden. It was a lucrative international trade, mostly in licences from f.o.c. states, and still is. The reason for this is obvious. F.o.c.’s rarely administer their own examinations. They are only interested in tonnage money. Bribery in some-crew-supplying states is rampant. In what respect is a Master or other seafarer cited worse? I refer only to competency, motivation and professional standards.(whether he is a nice person or not is immaterial) You get what you pay for. Owners know this and count on it. The enemy of safety is insurance. When the insurance market starts to take notice and penalizes owners for employing “crews of convenience” whose quality is doubtful, incidents like the most recent spate of environmentally destructive groundings will start to diminish. I’m for more and better training, more demanding certificates of verifiable provenance, and higher wages.

      1. Dear Capt. Colin,
        I do understand your point now, FYI the latest entrant in the COC buisness is Belieze.
        Your mention of NW europian crew in your initial remark prompted my response. I have sailed with NW europian and other west europian nationalities, trust me I am being fair, I did not find them any better than Indians. Competence was identical, ad a matter of fact competence of senior Indian Officers was better in some cases.

        You being a Seafarer serving ashore and having a better haulistic view of the industry than Sailing Masters.
        In my opinion, there is an issue other than Competence and training i.e. the attitude of crew. I have been sailing for 25 years and as Master for almost 10 years.
        I have noticed that in the last 4-5 years the crew have become very demanding once they board the vessel, agree some demands are justified but many are simply to vent there frustration.
        If you will analyse, the crew wages have not increased much compared to shore wages in the last 20 years. A Filipino AB use to earn about 1000-1200; USD way back in 1998 and in 2020 same has increased to about 1400-1500 USD.
        Junior officers- My last salary as second mate was about 2800 USD Way back in 2005, today it is about 3000-3300.
        If you compare the increament to a bank employee or any shore job you will appreciate that it is negative.
        In the 70s, Merchant marine was a sought after profession in India, today it is not a preferred profession. Yes, there are many suitors, but not the once who can get into other profession.
        What I want to highlight is that the quality of crew at entry is not good.
        Earlier, money was a motivation, but with stagnant wages that too had diminished.
        Internet- The younger generation of Seafarers will like to have Internet access at par with shore. Today internet is part of everyone’s life, the seafarer too want that.
        The ship owners will have to understand this fact and provide same free or at reasonable cost. For today’s crew communication is not only about keeping in touch with family, it is about access to internet as a whole.
        Insurance – I agree with your remark on Insurance. The ship owning being a buisness and all about bottom lines and I have been told same is under severe stress. The ship owners are employing cheaper crew with doubtful competence knowingly, to reduce cost. The screening is entirely left to the Manning agencies which have their own bottom lines to protect.
        Unless there is stiff guidelines on Certification and training as well as Screening prior employment, the quality issue will persist. Severe penalities on employing crew with doubtful competence will force the Ship owners towards due diligence.
        Thus the issue of Crew competence is linked to cost and same is connected to earnings.
        Excessive tonnage has been forcing earnings downwards for many years now. T

        1. A very intelligent and perceptive view of life at sea. I thank you, Sir, for your grace and political finesse. What you say is entirely true. At some point the industry will have to tackle the monotony and social isolation of modern seafaring. The old attraction of a social life on board with big crews and long stays in exotic ports is no longer valid. (Working on the Hong Kong ships l signed on for two years, and spent 75% of the time in port I had a wonderful time, and sea-time between ports was almost a novelty.) That all died in the early 1970s. Box boats killed breakbulk general cargo seafaring. When l read that the “Stellar Banner” had a crew of only 20, l wondered at the psychological damage being inflicted by watches like the 12-4.a.m, which would meet almost nobody. An old salt reminisced…… ”In thinking back to those times I have laughed out loud at the memories of fantastic people and silently cried for a life that was yesterday and a hundred years ago and now is gone forever.” We must find a better reason than just money for people to go to sea these days. British society has lost the admiration and respect that it’s Merchant Navy used to enjoy as a result of WW2 sacrifices, now that the British fleet is gone.

    2. Cannot agree more. Officers are rarely prepared ashore, as part of the certification structure, to deal with the paper burden shovelled at them by Port and Coast states, and the IMO. Previously Pursers would perform many of these routine functions. Most Masters are familiar with the long line of shore agencies waiting outside his cabin upon arrival, perhaps after a long pilotage. Because they are cheap and easily replaced, most owners care even less about their crews’ welfare than they did when trade unions forced them to take notice under developed-world flags. I have seen entire crews replaced en masse if a cheaper source, be it a nationality or an agency, is discovered.

    3. Captain Singh’s hackles are raised for no reason, although perhaps l have touched a nerve. Since he doesn’t know me how can he know if l am stupid? I request that this personal slight be withdrawn. I make no reference to race nor nationality, only competency, motivation and professionalism. His comment about comparative accident rates is mere “Cod statistics” without citing data to support his assertion. Neither of us knows what actually happened to put her aground, him no better than me. So l return the charge of “immaturity”. I pray the officers are not from a certain sub-continent. If they are l demand a mugshot of his face with egg all over it. “Systems failure” can mean just about anything. What system? Everything is part of a system, and IS a system in itself.

    1. Since nobody heard the coast radio stations‘ repeated radio calls(l assume on ch 16 vhf), obviously nobody was keeping a lookout by ear. Since nobody saw the reef in front of the ship, l can safely assume nobody was keeping a lookout by eye. Let’s see! How many senses are there left. Smell? Nah! Touch? Nah! I’d say the bridge was effectively unmanned. A proper lookout was not being kept by all means, as required by the Rules. In any case, since the ship was making a landfall, the Master should have been on the bridge, not partying below.

  9. It is a well known practice that ships come close +5 nautical miles from the SE Mauritian coast to be within the cell phone range.I speak by experience.That should not prevent the keeping of a proper watch and safe navigation.

    1. Well said.

      Ships do close coasts to get within cellphone range, these days, just as, thirty-odd years ago, when Mr Berlusconi’s television stations were starting to show raunchy programming, ships passing through the Mediterranean liked to get within range of Italian television, and the popularity of the radio officer improved if he were able to get and record some. And on the northern shore of the Malaysian Island known as Pulau Aur you may still find the remains of a Dutch offshore supply vessel which grounded during a New Year’s Eve Party in the early 80s, with just an AB on the bridge.

      1. In May 2011 the bulker “DOUBLE PROSPERITY” grounded on a reef while closing the coast of Mindanao to pick up TV reception for the Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Moseley fight.

  10. I am a sailing Master and don’t believe the bridge was unmanned. Though the reasons for accident will be known only after proper enquiry but they must question the decision to adjust course to go closer to land. If it was made to get better phone signal, it was not required. These days ships are provided with internet, even if it is for a lesser quantity.

    1. Sadly not all shipowners provide such a communications link. And they can be very expensive. Of course the ship was not put aground to improve reception. But l can accept that the ship was put in greater danger by the need to go closer to gain a connection or improve reception. Contact with loved ones is always an anxiety with seafarers, especially men with families. So any opportunity to talk to family will be jumped at. If the bridge was manned why did they not see the white water over the reef stretching for miles. Perhaps somebody was on the bridge, but doing whatever that leaves them looking away from forward l will be interested to know. I think “manned” means more than just being there.

  11. People do get, the nationality is not disclosed
    Now a days, service provider give you option of 10GB data for meagre price for 1day while on roaming
    These kind of accidents bring in more regulations, nothing else

  12. Good, good capt.saket sing, your global preventive measures will add 10 more pages of check list to be added in every watch.

  13. I havent read a comment about covid consequenses, why nobody says some of those people, if not all were trapped in there for 15 months being refused at every port due to covid…No body speaks about mental health and capability…to me it lookslike clearly that the root cause is the covid not the wifi (!!) Signal or the birthday. Come on

  14. whatever happened was rather unfortunate. i still would wait for the vdr recordings and further findings. Masters nowdays are hard pressed and so are the crew. Stress on board is prevalent from decades.

    1. Since nobody heard the coast radio stations‘ repeated radio calls(l assume on ch 16 vhf), obviously nobody was keeping a lookout by ear. Since nobody saw the reef in front of the ship, l can safely assume nobody was keeping a lookout by eye. Let’s see! How many senses are there left. Smell? Nah! Touch? Nah! I’d say the bridge was effectively unmanned. A proper lookout was not being kept by all means, as required by the Rules. In any case, since the ship was making a landfall, the Master should have been on the bridge, not partying below.

    1. Problem is, everyone sits at home or office and give their opinion. Don’t have any idea what shipping is nowadays. Its more like 6 months quarantine. And ports are of no help.

  15. Fully agree with you. I am a sailing Master and this comment by Smith (he does not deserve to be addressed as Captain) is in bad taste. It is the raving and rantings of a demented mind who cannot come to terms with the fact that some Asian nationalities are much better at the job then these NW Europeans who only harp on the maritime traditions of their marauding ancestors who would not survive a day at sea without recourse to alcohol.

    1. It is interesting that despite my repeated assertions to the contrary so many respondents immediately assume that l refer to race or nationality. Citing exceptions or examples does not make a rule. I have not even used the term ‘third world”. Substandard and therefore “cheap” crews can come from just about anywhere, although examination standards were a temporary brake. The perspective l offered was historical and global. One of the reasons that l gave as an example of NW Europe as an historical source of, initially, entire crews, and thereafter, officers, is bound up with Imperialism in all it’s manifestations. For my part two of the most powerful forces rendering NW European seafarers uncompetitive were the rise of trade unions, which shipowners naturally sought to escape, and the end of Empires. Flagging out and crewing out followed. To lower the hackles evidently aroused l should point out that the Indian certificate of competency, derived from the Commonwealth Scheme, was always highly esteemed and valued for it’s consistently high standards. Further, research by Professor D.H.Moreby showed that the optimum source of Officers came from the Indian sub-continent, specifically Bangladesh. Today the Indian certificate of competency has maintained it’s high value and appeal to those owners not wishing to fully exploit the Dutch Auction in crew costs. (Is that OK? Will you let me live now?)

    2. ” Asian nationalities are much better at the job then…”
      Not ‘then’; it is ‘than’, the comparative form. If you cannot speak English correctly, then how can we believe that you are actually “a sailing Master”?

  16. Mr Sam Chambers , it’s not the birthday party or wifi search please put the right reason always , due to reporters like you the sealife will made a mental asylum,

    Firstly no matter there was a birthday party it’s the crew right to celebrate . It’s the why there was no watch keeping or a competency compromise on watch keeping to be reported

    Wifi search may not be the case it’s a standard company I believe they might have V Sat, if not then is the MLC compromised for the crew to communicate to the families . Why Vsat is not made mandatory and crew right of communication this will be importance to report.

  17. I sailed for more than 40 years and 20 of them as Master. Never in this period did I see any breach of discipline in watch-keeping routine onboard. Parties are nothing new (e.g. Christmas, New Year’s) and no ban on carrying alcoholic beverages (Bonded store) till about the mid 90’s) but nobody ever misused this privilege! The Captain made sure it didn’t
    happen. About this wi-fi thing, I couldn’t say anything because it was not there in my time. To me it seems ridiculous that a ship can be in the Wi-Fi range even if she comes close inshore

    1. 100 % in agreement sir, surely if you are going to deviate from your course and be that close to the coast you will need to satisfy yourself that your crew and the vessel will be safe. Strange things are happening these days

    2. HAVING SPENT 25 years at sea on cargo ships container and tankers and never on a dryship in the 70s esso petroleum would let all members of the ship have a 3 minute call a month a very good company. We did 6month trips no problems and on the tramp ships regularly did 12 months + still no problems.

  18. Seems not correct info. Bridge is always manned . One of the officer has to be in bridge always . Of there is a party , then the officer is releived by the other officer or captain himself . If local authorities were contacting , then the ship would have replied .

  19. I sm a serving Master of BP Shipping. Never heard of anyone closing the coast to get wifi. Pure crap. And all talk of 3rd world crews being irresponsible is utter balderdash. Else we Indians would not be worling fir oil majors. Cmon guys – you are seafarers – you know the facts. This is the most absurdly over regulated industry on the planet. Anything goes wrong – blame it on the fellow onboard. Churn out a new stupid reg every month and expect the ship’s officer to comply. How? Who tf is bothered. Just keep piling it on. …. and you nuts talk about Dutch auction ?? I wonder if you remember the haversine formula.

    Without regards

  20. Professionalism does not have a nationality, neither does Stupidity. My ship was in the area 10 days before the incident on a passage from Sunda to the Cape of Good Hope. I passed Rodriguez Island on the way, but 24 miles off – just close enough to get an additional check on the ships position. Facts are facts, that Ship had no business being there and doubtless the true reasons will come out in the enquiry. My only fear is that once again this will be the cause of a new regulation to burden seafarers.

  21. The newspaper has it the bull mark by writing such headline. Lets not assume till the time offical statement is out. Chesp crew doesnt resonate to lower standard, have seen crew with lower wages but much higher professionalism compared to counter parts who demanded huge salaries as they had point to prove that they are just as capable. As masters jumping the gun is the last thing which we should do. Paper work is secondary, if u maintain the rules on bridge of no paper work during watch, helps lot to reduce accidents which have caused due to lack of lookout. Inform office to hold on and that you will send reports when they are ready. It is how much of office pressure one takes and passes on to the juinors.

  22. They can use a sim card to get a 3/4/5G signal and use it to suply internet to the ship wifi system.

  23. Have read most of the above posts and it appears that each reply is based on the individual agenda of the “postee” whether consciously or not. We should however remember that the master is a professional and would have achieved that rank only after a considerable time at sea ie. he is an experienced seafarer, no mater his nationality, his certification etc… It is a fact that masters do hug coastlines to avail of shore networks for communication and it is also a fact that there is unnecessary and excessive paperwork and a further fact that parties are held on board and alcohol may perhaps flow – but it is also a fact that we all no exceptions here make mistakes or errors in judgement, the major ones becoming headlines – and should these bad judgements go unpunished is a question for the courts our own failings and knee jerk reactions to failings of others are best left in a closet.

    1. Dont worry, all above comment have no effect on the outcome in court of law.
      It is just another sad story .

    2. I agree re your first point. Freud said that “the most inferior people are those with inferiority complexes.” If you feel the need to defend your race or nationality or whatever, l have to ask where that need comes from. Since l haven’t criticized any race nor nationality, and only made an historical reference to NW Europe, what makes someone leap to defend against an imagined and non-existent slight with such savagery? Psychologists know the answer to this. Let us go forward discussing issues and exchanging information about our global employment industry, without giving or taking offence.

  24. As an example the ‘Dutch Auction”, I.e. bidding down, in the cost factors involved in ship operations, which include Classification Society, ship managers, insurance, crew, etc l recall that in the late 80’s China was offering ratings at $26 a month, and Masters at $120+ ish a month. Incredible figures. I recall the Filipino government panicked as it saw millions in seafarers dollars lost to the Filipino economy. Eventually the Filipino government extracted from the Chinese government an undertaking not to flood the market with cheap crews. I believe P&O looked at this for their Bay class container ships. I never heard whether it was taken up. As for quality, well they were very highly trained by the Chinese government, so would have been snapped up. Given the Yuan-Dollar exchange rate at that time these mariners would have been quite wealthy in Chinese society ashore. For a number of reasons the scheme died, but it frightened a lot of crew-supplying nations worldwide. I think the Chinese government decided to keep it’s trained crews for the expansion of it’s own international and domestic fleet. Also, l think shipowners would be scoring an own goal by handing China such overwhelming global control over such an important cost. Does anyone remember this episode, and whether and by how much it was taken up?

  25. I am a Sailing Master with 20 years in Command of ULVs and LV containerships and 43 years at Sea.
    Every disaster of a marine accident, each time , we have this incoherent gibberish from landlubbers , who have no clue , of what are the causative factors ,simply because they QUIT sailing years ago. Only assumptions and speculations in a merry go round pattern, then is followed by media acting as judge and various landlubbers as the jury, passing incredible judgements , even before authorities examine vdr and Ecdis recordings .

    What has a birthday party or alcohol (within limits and policies) hot to do with this disaster? Only when vdr recordings are studied, where we will probably see the OOW either not calling the Master of Maritime alert on VHF or laughing the Alert away , sure that Master and Bridge team could never go wrong! Zero challenge culture prevailing and a minus Zero of Masters authority and influence to convince OOW to CALL MASTER per set orders.

    It’s always the Basics failing . Then again a huge disaster with new set of ridiculous policies and checklists like Zero Alcohol policy.

    Meanwhile we have dodge and deflect self appointed or deliberately planted
    ” agents”who hijack the issue of learning from the disaster with Nationality vs competence unwanted comments!!
    Instead of focusing how the Master(worth his salt) alongwith his entire Bridge team, deviated from a safe passage plan !
    Truth will prevail when vdr recordings are examined.

    Capt.Malvinder Singh

    1. You are stupid. As most seamen. You just want a simple life on autopilot while your wife takes care of your house, kids and bills.

  26. Everybody is talking about a vhf call made by coast guard. But is this substantiated. Is there proof of it. Was that signal strong enough to be heard on the vessel. Offcourse all this will come out when the vdr review is made. I am a sailing master with 15 years of command experience and i have never come across nor heard of of the bridge being not manned at sea. Parties and get togethers with alcohol has always been present. In my opinion probably the duty officer was doing paper work in the chart room.
    People who make absurd comments and nlaming crew are those seafarers who quit sailing atleast 15 years ago.

  27. I’ve had sailed the seas for a long time with that kind of ship and had a minor problem that occurred but nevertheless a situation of losing a big ship in my whole career. It is a matters of self discipline and a good leadership onboard.

  28. Considering a vessel of this size and the kind of disaster, it is just not acceptable that it was sheer negligence, I’m sure theres something more to it.
    Lets wait till the investigations reveal the cause rather than speculate.

  29. Totally agree Captain Paperwork.Whole idea of looking for WiFi is absurd to say the least. On what coast on this planet do you get WiFi signal?? Really astonishing to give press coverage to such innuendos. Anyway this was a new MOL vessel and surely they had WiFi on board.

  30. Are seafarers prisoners on the ships? Next you will say there should be no internet on board? Stop asking such stupid questions!

  31. I have been on Wakashio on four or five occasions to pilot her in and out of port.

    I was amazed to hear of this grounding. She was managed by a high quality company (Mitsui), and her Filipino master and crew are at the high end of the range of competency my colleagues and I encounter.

    The learnings from this will come in due course. Hopefully this was not a deliberate violation of rules by a crew who have been unable to crew change in over a year due to Covid. Unless wilful violation of rules was a factor, it will probably turn out that human error was the root cause. Wherever humans are involved in an operation, there will be errors. Good safety systems acknowledge that and put defences in place.

    1. In other hand in 2010 Wakashio had 64 deficiencies found in Canada. The OOW had not licences and the Satellite navigation equipment was missing.

      1. Bullshit. From her PSC history:

        In 2010 she had 8 deficiencies at a PSC inspection. 6 were administrative paperwork issues. 1 was for a faulty GNSS reciever (out of 6 on the bridge) and 1 was a lifeboat deficiency (unspecified). None were serious enough for the ship to be detained.

        Since then she has averaged 1 deficiency a year. Not many ships can say that. And she has never been detained by PSC since she began trading.

          1. You are a liar. Her PSC inspections during her lifespan have taken place in Australia, China, Korea, Japan, Canada and Brazil.

    2. Well said. It’s a long established “working rule” amongst people who know the business that if you want to know what a ship is like, you ask a regular Pilot who has taken her a few times. Thank you for some common sense.

    3. That is all very well as far as it goes. All of this is speculation. Of course we await the incident report generated by the Mauritius authorities. Nevertheless the ship ran onto the reef. So something went wrong, and it doesn’t appear there was anything wrong with the ship. If there were ,l can assure you the company would have led with it from day One.. As a retired Marine Accident investigator with Transport Canada l can say that this accident appears attributable to human error. Whoever was or was not on the bridge at the time, he obviously wasn’t doing his job because the ship grounded. And the Master wasn’t doing his job, also because the ship ran aground. To me “why” is irrelevant. We know “how” this should have unfolded, with somebody keeping a proper lookout in the wheelhouse, with the Master on the bridge while making a landfall, or at least properly supervising the OOW. And the ship in hand steering by a qualified QM. I’ve investigated dozens of accidents of this nature. I will bet a fortune the Master and OOW will burn for this one. What other outcome is possible?
      Btw l often relieved the OOW if he had a pile of paper to attend to. With a 2 Mate ship l took over the 8-12 permanently. It’s not exactly a big work up keeping a visual and radio watch. Some Masters feel its beneath their dignity. Very few think of relieving their officers after a tough port turnaround. But morale is so important.

  32. The shore establishments – Owners / Managers / Employers all want efficient, experienced, physically fit, hard working, devoted professionals but when it comes to crews welfare? None? Unless it becomes a law where Owners Managers are compelled to provide. How many of you had Gym email etc facilities on board till ILO / ITF / Rest hours governing laws came in? Ship owners Managers have to ensure all their vessels provide free internet for crew at a min of 1GB per month so that crew can atleast see their family even a glimpse per day is enough for a seaman but shore establishments who are mostly ex masters & Ch Engrs just change temperaments & attitudes overnight with least considerations to crew welfare to please the Owners

  33. Agree. I 3rd mate onboard, and paperwork on bridge is really very dangerous. Twice i almost hit fishing boat and one small sailing yatch. onetime doing weekly drill report almost aground china. Capt doesnt know. All lucky nearmiss. But too much port docs and reports and very short voyage and family stress.. Really very dangerous job. Now 11 months on board no reliever. Food also no good. No shoreleave. No new movie. Internet when have signal cellphone only. Sometimes i think if i jump in port in water maybe they send me home, maybe they think im crazy., capt also no good always angry same with chief engine. I hope imo make rules to take care of mental health onboard. All accidents can be prevented if mind is clear, and thinking properly and alert. Not like eyes wide open but brain fully shut.

  34. I will not mention their 3 nationalities here but 20 foreign crews were on the ship. No Japanese crew but Wakashio is a Japanese-owned ship. I am Japanese and really feel a guilty. Many Japanese people feel really bad also and seeking for donations and sending hair (We cannot because of Coronavirus apparently.) Some people say that at least one Japanese crew should be on a ship to control and be responsible. We do never have a party especially closely to a land and no approaching for WiFi. Foreign crews are maybe common in a shipping world though.

    I am very sorry. It is really far from here and we have coronavirus. We cannot do much from Japan but I will do something what I can do now – Donating and asking my people to do so as well. I do know it is not about money though…Some speciality staff from Japanese government are working there and the Japanese shipping company officially declared to pay compensation for Mauritius. I know it is difficult but I really hope its speedy recovery.

    1. It is a pity that Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement does not hire Japanese seafarers. Perhaps the accident had been avoided.

  35. “I would not have wrecked the ship says the man on the beach.”
    I read with interest and some surprise, the many comments on this article. Straight out of the blocks were speculations that seem to blame the seafarers. The assumptions that alcohol was involved, the bridged was unmanned, parties on board should not be, incompetence, rule violation etc led the charges before any understanding that we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Seafarers are stranded working well beyond their contracts with an existential crisis looming. A lot is happening and I cannot imagine what their mental state is like at this time. As someone on land with a fair amount of autonomy, some savings, some social contact, internet etc. and I think I am weathering this storm fairly well, I have not been able to keep days when I am depressed at bay. My motivation is at 0 most times and I just feel like I am a sitting duck waiting for this unseen threat to catch up with me. What do seafarers at sea or stranded in ports think at this time? I am not excusing what happened, the point is until I get the official report, I should keep speculations at a minimum to nil.
    A lot is happening in addition to the normal trials of seafaring and only about 2 comments mentioned the pandemic and recognise the added stress and mental strain that seafarers must be experiencing at this time. Since we don’t know what happened and even an official report will only be partially true, blaming the seafarer should not be the first option. Understanding should be foremost. Simplicity and the obvious are most times much further from the truth. Seafarers have enough blame going their way and those of us who have a better understanding of their lives should not be too quick to add fodder to the fire that we know is coming their way.

    1. Madam. Work backwards from what you know, not forwards from what you think or would like to be the cause. Item 1. The ship went aground. Item 2. Nobody has reported any problem with the ship, Item 3. It is clear there was nobody on the bridge keeping a proper lookout, a simple deduction flowing from Item 1. and 2. Item 4. The Master was not supervising his watch keeping officers properly.
      It is not intellectually challenging. It is a matter of deduction and knowing what is required. Since the Master’s primary role, above all others, is to keep the ship safe, the fact that it wasn’t kept safe logically suggests he was not there when he should have been. Absent both officers having a heart attack, or tripping on the stairs and knocking themselves out, etc, what other explanation can there be. People are tying themselves in knots over the proximate cause, while it is staring them in the face. It’s important to think clearly and deductively.

  36. Please don’t do social media trial when the Captain and crew are now actually facing the court trial and police enquiries. Think about the mental condition of them in foreign country and please help them as possible.

  37. The captain of the ship that spilled hundreds of tonnes of oil off the coast of Mauritius has been arrested. Captain was charged with endangering safe navigation, police said. He has not yet commented.2 hours ago….
    But I am not

  38. It is answer to criticism:-

    A maritime official with knowledge of the incident who asked not to be named told Reuters news agency.

    “The official confirmed that the crew had been questioned about reports they were having a birthday party on board, but said it was not clear yet if the party had been held at the same time that the ship ran aground or earlier in the day.

    He also denied media reports that the ship had sailed close to land seeking a Wi-Fi signal, saying that looking for a phone signal would not have required sailing so close to land.”

  39. I totally agree with you Captain . Birthday party and WiFi diversion being causes absolute bullshit .
    To get WiFi few would have had Mauritius SIM
    The person responsible is ONLY OOW and Master
    So why say a party was a distraction ??
    This report is from an ill informed reporter who knows nothing of seafarers and their life on board
    No one is justifying the calamity but talk sense
    In an informed manner . Like all news the headlines content is just to attract attention albeit falsely . All crew cannot be on duty All the time !

  40. This raises the issue of providing wi-fi to crew onboard – something many owners still refuse to do.

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