Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has formulated measures to prevent a reoccurrence of the incident involving the bulk carrier Wakashio, chartered by MOL from a subsidiary of Nagashiki Shipping, which ran aground off the island of Mauritius on July 25, 2020, and leaked bunker oil less than two weeks later.
In developing the measures to prevent reoccurrence, because the investigation and survey by local authorities are still in progress, MOL reviewed its past initiatives on safe operation based on probable causes, from the beginning – not only from the aspect of the vessel but also other aspects including MOL’s shoreside support system and management systems of shipowners and ship management companies.
In its investigation, MOL learned that two days before the grounding, Wakashio‘s captain changed the ship’s passage plan – i.e. the distance from the coast when sailing off the island of Mauritius – from 22 nautical miles to five nautical miles.
On the day of grounding, the crew tried to further reduce the distance from the coast from five nautical miles to two nautical miles so that the ship could enter an area within the communication range of mobile phones. The crew then used a nautical chart without sufficient scale to confirm the accurate distance from the coast and water depth.
In addition, a crewmember neglected appropriate watch-keeping (visually and by radar), even though the ship was trying to sail two nautical miles off the coast. As a result, it ran aground in water 10 metres deep 0.9 nautical miles off the coast.
Because of not only the above-mentioned background, but also the fact that Wakashio had approached to other coasts several times even before the incident, the crew may have taken unsafe actions due to overconfidence that stems from complacency. In MOL’s view, such behaviour on a large vessel reflects a lack of safety awareness.
Another reason behind the cause is that the crewmembers lacked awareness of the guidelines on performing navigation in a safe manner. Further, their efforts to conform were insufficient, as they did not prepare an appropriate passage plan that would have ensured appropriate performance, did not own and use the correct nautical map, and neglected visual and radar watchkeeping.
Measures to prevent reoccurrence
MOL will invest the equivalent of about ¥500 million (US$4.8 million) in measures to prevent reoccurrence of probable causes. These measures will include crew safety dialogues, safety awareness surveys, education on proper use of electronic nautical charts, and upgrading of onboard communication systems on all MOL-owned and chartered vessels.
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