Lack of Crew Awareness Contributed to Mauritius Spill: MOL

A shipping accident offshore Mauritius that polluted its beaches with fuel was partly caused by a lack of crew awareness, according to the Japanese company that chartered the vessel.

Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd. also said the ship was using the wrong type of nautical charts as it veered toward the island nation and ran aground on July 25, President Junichiro Ikeda said at a press briefing Friday.

The ship, MV Wakashio, leaked about 1,000 tons of fuel when it began breaking apart last month, causing ecological damage as it fouled beaches and mangroves. The spill is expected to impact the marine and tourism industry that employs at least a fifth of the workforce in the Indian Ocean nation.

Lack of Crew Awareness Contributed to Mauritius Spill: MOL

“The crew lacked awareness of the danger of the ship getting closer to the shore,” Ikeda said, adding that the nautical charts the ship was using at the time didn’t show detailed water depths and that waves from the south were also pushing the ship ashore.

The shipping ministry of Mauritius has completed an interim report that will serve as a basis for further investigations, though it hasn’t been released publicly. A separate report earlier this month by the Panama Maritime Authority said the ship had moved closer to the island in order to connect to Wifi, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK reported.

Nagashiki Shipping Co., which owns the ship, said the company is unable to comment on the investigation. “The owner will not comment on these matters until the official process of the law is concluded,” it said in emailed responses to questions.

Lack of Crew Awareness Contributed to Mauritius Spill: MOL

Mitsui OSK, known as MOL, also said Friday that it’s committing 1 billion yen ($9.4 million) partly to help with the clean-up in Mauritius. About 800 million yen will go into a fund over the next few years for the environmental recovery and protection of biodiversity, including mangroves, coral reefs and seabirds.

About 100 million yen will go to NGOs and other groups in Mauritius, while the remainder is earmarked for expenses, including setting up an office in the country. Nagashiki Shipping will also donate money to the fund.

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