The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) has released some preliminary findings from the ongoing investigation of the grounding of the Panama-registered bulker Wakashio on a Mauritius reef.
A delegation of experts from Panama is in Mauritius collaborating in the investigation and AMP says that, while the inquiry is still in the data collection phase, the competent authorities have been able to confirm that on July 25, the Wakashio ship, owned by the Japanese company Nagashiki Shipping Co. Ltd. (Nagashiki Kisen KK), diverted from its navigation plan, which had been approved at the time of sailing from Singapore bound for Brazil. The course modification, says AMP, could have been be related to the celebration of the birthday of one of the crew members.
So far, based on crew statements, the change of course followed instructions from Wakashio’s captain to approach to about 5 miles off the coast of Mauritius, looking looking for a telephone and internet signal, so that the crew members could communicate with their families.
AMP says that the captain of the ship, the chief engineer and the first officer were on the navigation bridge when this improper approach took place, which caused a dangerous situation. alerted, in the first instance, by the Mauritian authorities.
The last position taken in the ECDIS (Integrated Nautical Charts and Navigation Equipment System) was at 1802 LT, and the ship grounding was recorded at 1925 LT.
AMP says that an appropriate analysis of the situation would have allowed the necessary actions to be taken to correct the course and avoid the accident.
While there were people on the navigation bridge with sufficient experience in assessing the problem, AMP says, it seems the wrong Electronic Nautical Chart was being used and with the wrong scale, which made it impossible to properly verify the approach to the coast and shallower waters.
AMP cites a lack of supervision and monitoring of the navigation equipment and an “excess of confidence” during the watch, as among the factors that could have caused the grounding.
AMP says it awaits the result of an interview with the captain and the first officer, who are in detention, and has requested access to the VDR (voyage data recorder and and other essential ship navigation documents in the investigation, which are in the custody of the Mauritius police.