Captain of bulker that sparked huge Indonesian oil spill faces lengthy jail sentence

The Chinese master of the Ever Judger has been named a suspect in the massive oil spill off the coast of Balikpapan in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan.

The captain and 21 members of the crew of the Panamanian ship have been detained in Balikpapan and are suspected of dragging anchor and rupturing a pipeline that led to a huge spill and fire on March 31, which killed five fishermen and has sparked a national emergency with cleanup operations ongoing.

The master faces two charges which combined could carry a 14-year jail term.

“The captain ordered the chief mate to drop anchor,” Yustan Alpiani, the East Kalimantan Police director of special crimes said on Thursday afternoon. Records show the pilot told the captain not to drop anchor at that spot because it was a prohibited area.

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.
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