Wakashio master admits that he had been drinking
This week, senior employees, including the chief engineer and the master of the notorious newcastlemax Wakashio answered questions at the Mauritius court.
Last week, Sri Lankan Chief Officer Hitinamillage Tilakaratna Subodha told the court that the master had diverted the ship's course in search of a wifi internet link to get closer to the Mauritian coastline, something he had done frequently around the world.
Sunil Kumar Nandeshwa, the Indian captain of the ship, for his part, tried to transfer the blame to his first officer while acknowledging that he was drinking.
“I was under the influence of alcohol and [Subodha] was in command of the ship,” Nandeshwa admits at the court.
Nandeshwa had also admitted earlier this week that no one had been on the lookout at the time the ship was grounded.
The charterer of the Wakashio, a 300 m long Giant of the Seas which is operated by Nagashiki Shipping, was Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL). The ship diverted from its course on its way to Brazil from Asia, running aground on pristine coral reefs just off southern Mauritius on July 25.
The bulk carrier will continue to leak nearly 1,000 tons of bunker fuel. The Wakashio split in two then.
MOL gave the explanation why the ship had changed its passage plan from leaving a 22 nautical mile distance between it and the island of Mauritius to just two nautical miles in a release from December last year announcing steps to avoid another reoccurrence of a Wakashio-style disaster.
"According to the release, the reason cited was “to enter an area within the communication range of mobile phones”.
In addition, MOL revealed that a nautical chart was used by the crew without sufficient scale to validate the exact distance from the coast and water depth. Besides that, MOL said that a crew member, both visually and by radar, neglected effective watch-keeping.
Maritime Business World