AsiaDry CargoEnvironmentOperations

Bulk carrier sitting on reef off Mauritius starts to leak bunker fuel

The 203,000 dwt Wakashio bulk carrier, which ran aground on a reef just off the southeast coastline of Mauritius on July 26, has started spilling bunker fuel into the famous azure seas of the French speaking republic. 

Local authorities have ordered the public, including boat operators and fishermen, not to venture to the beach and in the lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg.

“All highly sensitive areas including the Ramsar site of Pointe d’Esny and the Blue Bay Marine Park have been protected with booms,” a government spokesperson said.

The ship, owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping, was en route from China to Brazil when it ran aground with 3,800 tonnes of bunker fuel onboard. 

“Due to the bad weather and constant pounding over the past few days, the starboard side bunker tanker has been breached and an amount of fuel oil has escaped into the sea. Oil prevention measures are in place and an oil boom has been deployed around the vessel,” a spokesperson for the Japanese shipping company said today. 

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.

Comments

  1. Ten days after the accident and SMIT SALVAGE tug has not arrived yet? It is really incomprehensible.

  2. I’d like to see the accident report on this one (if it ever actually appears). The vessel appears to have been on a course for six days that made it inevitable that if she didn’t go aground on Mauritius, then she would have taken the ground at Saint-Denis. It looks like a repeat of the incompetence that caused OLIVA’s grounding in 2011.

  3. This is heartbreaking. Mauritian colleagues are telling me that the Blue Bay Marine Park has been wrecked already, coral and rare turtles smothered. The schools are closed because the smell is too bad and the fishermen who depend on the lagoon for their livelihoods, not to mention the already-struggling, Covid-struck tourism industry will all be finished. It’s an economic, as well as an environmental, disaster for Mauritius.

    What makes me so angry is that there have been two previous incidents on the east coast reef in the past few years – Angel 1 off Poudre d’Or and Benita off Le Bouchon, just a few miles from where Wakashio has grounded. How can this happen again?

    How do you stop an incompetently navigated vessel from doing this in future? How do you physically prevent the cowboys from causing chaos on the world’s oceans. Shipping has a poor enough reputation as it is – this sort of thing makes it very hard to convince poeople it’s a grown-up, environmentally responsible industry.

    I hope Mauritius follows Maldives in charging environmental vandals of this kind vast sums per square metre of coral damaged.

  4. VDR data provided it was saved can show how it happened but unless all were asleep, this cannot happen, moreover u pass atleast 30NM or more even on a GC track from Mauritius coast bound to S Africa or America, how can u closeup so much to run aground as a min 12NM off coast has be allowed for territorial waters of any country

    1. Hello
      You couldn’t have said it clearer Capt. Gupta. The government and the ship are both at fault. I live on this beach. Its a crying shame. Will we ever know what’s in the VDR data? And how to prevent this happening yet again? My father was a captain. I cannot imagine a man in that position grounding a ship by mistake.
      The exterior world has caught up with this protected piece of paradise. A shame for all and a disaster for those living here.

      1. I fully agree with Captain Gupta and my cousin Captain Louis d’Espagnac retired in the UK said same as per Captain Gupta. Any professional seamen would agree that something is very fishy to be appropriate with the ocean wreck.
        Unfortinaely as you said Alix Le Juge shall we ever have the “black box ” transcript.
        Mauritians are not that so naive at least those that made the Tourism industry an economic success.
        Whats next… election is not the solution as since its independance Mauritius have had two dynasties the Ramgoolam and the Jugnauth is Mauritius a Monarchy ?

  5. Hi ,
    It seems that the govt there does not have any contingency plans though two oil spills happened in the past .As usual greedy and corrupt politicians at the helm.
    It looks like they are overwhelmed.Damage is already done to marine ecosystem .Poor locals are already suffering from the brunt of that disaster.This a tropical Hotspot where corruption is rampant.
    So sad for poor locals.

  6. Strong jail term for the master, maximum fines for shipping company, this sort of thing all to prevalent, incompetent cowboys. Another paradise ruined by greedy shipowners.

  7. This can be blamed solely on the government of Mauritius for failure to take proper action when the boat run aground. They were behaving like total amateurs. Even locals and fishermen could see and predict the danger that boat was for our environment. The day before the oil leak, there was a statement on the national TV where they claimed things are alright but the next day things went horrible. This prove how much of an amateur these guys are to handle any disaster. There should be an inquiry and the related ministries and staffs should be prosecuted by a court for failure to save the environment by an international court as even our local justice system is corrupt.

  8. As a sailing master of over 26 years on every size and kind of ship from small Reefers to VLCC’s and LNG’s, I am perplexed as to what that ship was doing so close to land in first place. She should have been at least 20 nautical miles off the coast. I am really sad that this has happened to such a beautiful place, on first impressions due to sheer stupidity and negligence.

  9. Let us to be rational!
    Captain of the WAKASHIO did not produce the spill. The spill occurred a week later, because JAPAN P&I and SMIT SALVAGE did absolutely nothing. Insurers laugh at the Mauritius government because civil liability is limited as per international agreements sponsored by IMO legal comittee.

    So keep blaming to Captain, idiots!

    1. Every sensible navigator knows that coasts are off-limits and vessels generally do not navigate so close to coasts especially when nearing protected zones.

      There must be a series of failures onboard the vessel and possibly some from the shore side that have taken place in order for the Wakashio to be grounded on a reef in an area where traffic is pretty clear and the space is pretty wide.

      The Captain is the person responsible for the vessel, thus he should be included in the investigation for this particular incident.

    2. Really Captain,perhaps he only had a sextant at his disposal,this is not the Bay of Biscay in winter.
      I would ensure to not ever be on a ship under your command .. is it still Woman and Children first ?

  10. And we are sure this has nothing to do with the “shortage of storage places for oil” a couple of months back?

  11. WHAT SORT OF IDIOTS GOT A POSSITION FOR SUCH DECISIONS !, OTHER SHOW THAT THEY DON’T PUTTING RIGHT PPL ITS ALL JUST BY CONNECTIONS WITH PPL IN POWER OR/AND CORRUPTION !. AS ANYONE WITH RIGHT MIND WOULD NOT GO BY DIRECTION WHICH HAVE HIGH CHANCE IN DAMAGAING THEY SHIP MOSTLY KNOWINLY THAT THEY HAVE HIGH AMOUNT OF FUEL WHICH IF GET IN LEAKAGE MAY CAUSES SUCH DISSASTER !… ITS A COMPLETE IGNARANCY, EVENTUALLY KNOWINGLY SHIP HAVING SOME DAMAGE ALREADY OR IN NOT GOOD CONDITION AND THEY LET IT ON COURSE ! MOSTLY IN AREA WHICH IS UNDER PROTECTION !
    THIS IS JUST OUTRAGEUS ! AND WHAT I DONT UNDERSTAND HOW JAPAN PUTTING HANDS OFF IT ! ITS THEY OWN FAULT NOW SHOULD DO IN THEY COMPLETE POWER TO FIX THE DAMAGE THEY CAUSED ! THEY ALL RESOURCES TO CLEAN THEY SHIT EVEN IF IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO DO SO FIND FUCKING WAY AND DO IT!

Back to top button