Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping, owner of the bulk carrier that caused an oil spill off Mauritius, announced the results of its investigation, blaming the incident on the crew, who ran the vessel aground seeking a better phone signal.
“There was a lack of awareness of the dangers of navigating close to the coast… and insufficient implementation of regulations that must be observed in order to safely execute voyages,” the company said in a statement Friday.
The vessel veered off its pre-defined course as the crew tried to get mobile phone coverage and ultimately ran onto a reef, the company said, citing interviews with the crewmembers of the vessel.
The shipping company has vowed to ramp up training of its crews, as well as promising to roll out additional measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. The precautions include a ban on personal mobile phone usage, installation of high-speed communications systems on all of Nagashiki’s ships, as well as placing surveillance cameras on the bridges of some of its vessels.
The large, nearly 300-meter long capesize bulk carrier, used to transport iron ore, ran aground off the coast of the tiny African island nation of Mauritius on July 25. The Panama-flagged vessel started leaking fuel several days afterwards, and ultimately broke into two pieces on August 15.
More than a half of the ship’s fuel was pumped out of its reservoirs after the incident, yet some 1,000 tons escaped into the ocean, damaging the unique ecosystem of Mauritius’ waters and coastline. While no one was injured during the grounding itself, three people died when a tug capsized during efforts to collect fuel in the ocean.
The spill triggered a major cleanup operation, while Mauritius urged the shipping company and Tokyo to pay for the damage, declaring the incident a national emergency.
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