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Investigations step up as salvage team grapples with broken up bulk carrier off Mauritius

The crew of the bulk carrier, which split in two on reefs off Mauritius on Saturday, are due to face further interviews this week, while investigators are also set to check the contents of the stricken Japanese vessel’s voyage data recorder (VDR) in the coming days.

The Panamanian-flagged Wakashio, owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping, ran aground near UNESCO protected sites on July 25 having deviated from its course.

Salvage teams are working to drag the fore part of the ship off the reef, but the operation has been hit by bad weather.

The ship splitting in two also resulted in a quantity of oil and grease entering the water, which has been difficult to control due to the poor weather conditions.

More officials from both Japan and Panama are arriving in Mauritius this week to assist in the investigation.

The Panamanian flag has stepped back from its initial suggestion that the accident was likely caused by bad weather. Its latest release on the accident states that “the ship ran aground, without the causes of the event having been determined so far, due to mechanical failure or human error”.

An earlier suggestion from Panamanian authorities that the newcastlemax had grounded because of bad weather on July 25 was refuted by data providers who had access to the local weather conditions on the day of the disaster.

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. Es lógico que se las abra para inspección y control, pero en distintas imágenes aparecen sucesivamenta abiertas y luego cerradas ¿cómo es posible sin energía a bordo? Se pudo haber hecho una vez con energía externa de un buque auxiliar, pero no veo ninguno conectado

  1. I wouldn’t be in the Masters shoes for any money. What questions would he have to answer?How much data does a vdr carry? I remember taking one off the Star Princess after it ran over a fishing vessel. Is it only a course recorder and nothing more? Not like aircraft., l suppose.

    1. Depending on maker/model/age/compression, VDR holds some days to several weeks. Voice data from mic installation may also be beneficial, if applicable.

      1. So it’s mostly just a course recorder, with the possibility of a voice overlay. No data logger from the engine room, recording engine movements or rpm?
        Doesn’t seem much. Hardly a 747. And the course is already know, I.e. a course that took them onto the reef.

        1. many vdr hold an unbeliveable amount of data. these cape size ships have to keep a “serious” VDR equipment on board.
          as navigational data beside the obvious gps position, COG, SOG there is compulsory Rate of Turn indicator for this size. it is the least funny thing to make any change to course without ROT at hand.
          once this baby starts to swing it is hard to stop the swinging.
          gyro, magnetic course, and speedlog data recorded.
          additionally the AIS traffic also recorded. (targets with their nav data).
          some newer installation the wind station also recorded.
          main engine telegraph order, the actual rpm for sure.
          steering wheel order on the wheel, and actual set of the rudder for sure (axiometer).
          if you have several conning station on the bridge, then the active “in command” station’s what is recorded.

          then at least one radar screen snapshot every 15 seconds.

          then the voice recordings: fixed installation vhf comm, and several mic around the wheelhouse, at the chart table, at the steering console, conning stations, at the telegraph, and even outside on the wings.

          if they did a lawful approach after the situation, the crew should have “freeze” and download the accident data themselves, normally should have a “push-a-button” emergency download solution on a VDR.
          at once this could be the best protection of the master, or the worst evidence against him.

  2. Why Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement does not come out to defend one of their oldest Captains?

    1. What are they supposed to defend? You can’t defend the indefensible.
      We don’t know all the facts about the situation, but from what we know so far it just looks like incompetence of the highest order.

    2. They will position themselves to deflect liability and blame. They are a business. Their relationship with the Master is also a bit of business. As l have found to my great cost you can’t expect loyalty from a business. They will work to distance themselves from him. And if the Master is as guilty of negligence as l suspect he is nothing can be done for him. They cannot assert that he is a fine Master if he has let his ship run aground. In a sense it can asserted that he has forfeited their loyalty and support. At 58 l doubt he will work again. A sad outcome to an unnecessary and avoidable aaccident.

  3. I guess the Captain of WAKASHIO will be in high risk of being lynched but Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement will not lift a finger to help him.

    1. I see BSM as cowardly rats, hiding behind their Captain. What must we say about it?

      1. Actually the captain of WAKASHIO has been working for BSM for a quarter of a century.

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