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Wakashio stern remains lodged on reef 375 days on from its infamous grounding

More than a year since its grounding and splitting in two, the rump of the Wakashio newcastlemax remains lodged on a reef off Mauritius as the picture above taken a week ago shows.

Mauritius authorities continue to investigate the grounding, 2020’s most high profile shipping accident, pay out decisions to the local community are ongoing, and the ship’s crew are still being detained on the island.

The Wakashio’s flag state, Panama, has yet to make its accident investigation report public.

Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) was the charterer of the Wakashio, a 300 m long giant of the seas, owned by Nagashiki Shipping. En route to Brazil from Asia, the ship diverted from its course, running aground on pristine coral reefs just off southern Mauritius on July 25 last year. The bulk carrier would go on to spill around 1,000 tonnes of bunker fuel. The Wakashio then split in two. While the front of the ship was towed to a deeper destination and scuttled, a Chinese salvage team worked to remove the stern. Having got rid of the accommodation block and much of the deck, operations to remove the final part of the ship have ground to a halt in recent months. Strong southeast winds have been cited for the pause in wreck removal operations. The winter weather in Mauritius has been some of the most stormy experienced for many years.

In a release from December last year announcing measures to prevent another reoccurrence of a Wakashio style disaster, MOL gave the reason the ship had changed its passage plan from leaving a 22 nautical mile gap between it and the island of Mauritius to just two nautical miles. The reason cited, according to the release, was “to enter an area within the communication range of mobile phones”. Moreover, MOL revealed the crew were using a nautical chart without sufficient scale to confirm the accurate distance from the coast and water depth. In addition, MOL said a crewmember neglected appropriate watch-keeping, both visually and by radar.

Following the grounding of the Wakashio, Captain Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar and chief officer Tilakaratna Subodha were arrested by Mauritian authorities. On August 18 they were charged with endangering safe navigation. The pair have been detained in prison since their arrest and have been denied bail. Most of the remainder of the crew have been detained under house arrest and kept in a local hotel, seemingly on the grounds that they may be required to appear as witnesses in a trial that has yet to commence. Some of these seafarers have not seen their families for more than 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.


  1. Of course MOL will take measures, but what measures is the government of Mauritius taking?
    Surely enhanced Coast Guard radar and radio monitoring of it’s seas up to 24 miles out. Continuous watches, more than one person. Fast police launch and helicopter ready to intercept the approaching vessel. And even expanding cell-phone coverage out to 10 miles to discourage vessels from coming closer for that purpose. Of corse it will all cost money, but what has this disaster cost it so far? It will always be this way…the stable door slamming after the horse has bolted.
    Those crew-members who were not involved in the grounding, off-watch deck crew, galley and engine room staff, should be sent home, if they haven’t already been sent home. Those involved in the casualty I.e. the Master and Chief Officer, the lookout and QM, should have their families flown out for a visit. 2 years away from their families is cruel and achieves nothing.

  2. So where r all the unions ? ITF ? amosup ? the do gooders ?
    Suppose they dont care a hoot fr the seamen ?
    Let them rot.
    The owners – whoever they are ? Dont care either.
    The seamen being used as a bargaining chip fr money they want from owners ? Insurance ?
    To top it off the Mauritius govt inquiry – they hve to b really dumb if it takes them so long ?
    Forget Panama – the less said the better.
    IMO the worst of the lot.

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