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Wakashio captain and first officer plead guilty to endangering safe navigation

The captain and first officer of the Wakashio newcatlemax grounded on a coral reef off Mauritius last year in the worst environmental disaster in the island nation’s recent history have pleaded guilty to endangering safe navigation.

The captain, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, and the first officer, Subodha Tilakaratna, entered their pleas on Monday in a hearing at the Intermediate Court in the capital, Port Louis. Nandeshwar admitted to drinking during a party on the ship when it ran aground in July 2020.

The charges — for conduct “likely to endanger the safe navigation of the ship or to cause interference or annoyance to the other persons on board” — are among the lightest criminal ones under Mauritian law. The offences carry a fine of $1,140, or a maximum prison sentence of two years.

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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