Dry CargoOperations

Giant bulk carrier runs aground on reef off Mauritius

A giant bulk carrier ran aground on a reef off Mauritius on Saturday evening, despite warnings from the local coast guard that the ship was travelling too near the shore. 

Booms are in place, and salvage companies are on standby to handle the delicate operation to safely remove the 203,130 dwt Wakashio bulk carrier from its position some 900 m from the shoreline in the southeast of Mauritius. 

The Panamanian-flagged vessel belongs to Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping and was heading from China to Brazil when the accident happened. 

The coast guard had tried in vain to contact the ship’s captain for an hour on Saturday evening to warn that its routing looked dangerous. When finally coast guard officials got through to the master, the captain insisted the planned route was safe. A few minutes later, however, the ship radioed local authorities to say the vessel had grounded on a reef. 

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. I’m guessing here but i think i know someone who’s career has just ended!

  2. As of now i can only say that , Route cause analysis should be done and results widely circulated for awareness to avoid such situations in future.

  3. Charting/Routing software are sadly making Skippers/Navigators more and more “stupid“, as seen a few years ago with a Volvo sailing vessel (Team Vestas) which at high speed hit the Cargados Carajos Shoals near Mauritius … perhaps high time to go back to pencil and paper charts “Seamanship” as US Navy commanders learned to their detriment after collisions off Singapore …

  4. Obviously the Master didn’t know where he was, since even after being forewarned he STILL believed he would pass clear. Incompetence in the highest degree. So where did he purchase his licence? Too much of this kind of incompetence these days. Despite having GPS, Electronic chart and radar. Sadly these days licences are very rarely suspended or withdrawn. Certainly no f.o.c. is going to take an interest and recommend action of any kind. They jut want the tonnage money. Likewise issuers of licences. With bigger and more expensive ships and better navaids the competency of crews is falling.

    1. Although, I concur with your comments that there is an apparent blunder. Yet, I would prefer root cause analysis and report on accident before commenting any further.

  5. Masters arrogance and overconfidence contributed to this huge problem which was absolutley avoidable. Owners Representative and over riding authority should be done away with.from shipping terminology.

  6. Charting/routing softwares are not there to take over the responsibilities of the master and officers. They are there to lighten the workload only. No one should delegate the responsibility of safe navigation to a piece of device or software.

  7. It s crystal clear that nobody was at the bridge at the moment of the accident. Fully negligence of the crew!!!!

  8. Lawyers and salvors laughing with P&I and H&M crying. First thing insurers must check is validity of Master’s and 2/O’s COC i.e. fake or not? Second is to assess on board ECDIS installation type competence and adequacy of voyage planning. Both could lead to a finding of vessel unseaworthiness and potential insurance defences along with cargo’s refusal to contribute in GA and salvage costs.

  9. Also note that the ship lies just a few hundred metres off a protected and unique marine park which has very old reef specimen. We hope it gets removed with the least damage possible.

  10. Lynching, sadly seems to be the easiest response to a Maritime incident. Blaming the Master , 2nd Officer and the ECDIS hopefully by those who are commenting is being done after their own thorough investigation. Prejudices and stigmatization should best be kept to oneself so that the investigators can get down to the root cause. Remember the unfortunate ships crew are seafarers like you once were!

    1. A very good statement. First an investigation is recommended and then decisive action taken accordingly. Cannot blame Master and officers prior to that.

  11. Root cause? Locking down the seamen for more than 12 months onboard without any prospects for relief not mention the shore leave. It’ s more to happen in following weeks/ months.
    Such grounding appears to the only chance to get home, eventually. Think about it, investigators.

    1. Capt. Jacek,
      I understand your concern. It is not a joke for seafarers to face such hardships. However, sometimes seafarers face rough weather, and that’s how they are a tough lot. Hope all goes well. This is my 13th month on board my VLCC without relief. I am thankful that I have good communication with my crew, owners, operators, and family ashore. Good luck to you.

  12. This accident is signed by the NAUTICAL INSTITUTE. Knowledge formerly obtained on long days at sea is now replaced by mediocre publications.

  13. As a Master I have sailed with few deck officers with Panamanian tickets with pathetic navigational knowledge.One other vessel that I sailed on was manned by all Panamanian engineers with Chief Engineer being an engine fitter a couple of years earlier with me and all other engineers being oil men with me in the same organization.So accidents are bound to happen when companies employ foc officers just because such ludicrous tickets are accepted by the flag state.Even today such so called officers are sailing on all kinds of ships just because the companies can pay about 1000 usd less to them and compromise the safety of the vessel and her crew.Its high time that somebody belled the cat.

  14. This is puzzling! For one, might be a case of a not updated eChart by Admiralty but somehow the Master should have practiced a maximum safety parameters in dealing with safe distance from shore, inder keel safety contour depth and weather.

  15. Stop making excuses fr the Master.
    broad daylight huge wide open ocean & he runs aground .
    there is something wrong with Master,
    period !!!!!

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