The Mauritius Oil Spill is still grabbing the headlines in the shipping world even months after the incident and now it has come to the forefront that the devastating oil spill happened as the crew scrambled for a better phone signal
The alleged ship MV Wakashio had hit a coral reef along the Mauritius coast on July 25th resulting in the spillage of 1000 tons of oil which ultimately led to a national emergency in Mauritius
Crew Overlooked Navigation
The Japanese Shipping company which owns the ship MV Wakashio has reviewed the incident and released the findings in an internal investigation report last Friday. According to the report, the spill happened when the ship went off track as the crew scrambled for telecom signals on their phone.
In a statement issued by the Japanese company, Nagashiki Shipping said that “the 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 voyage caused the spill.
Meanwhile, another investigation report released by MV Wakashio’s operator highlighted that the ship was destined to be 22 nautical miles from the Mauritius coast but the crew narrowed it down to 2 nautical miles in an attempt to find a better phone signal receiving area.
The report also confirmed that the crew was ill-equipped as it checked the location on a huge nautical chart that shows the distance from the coast and the water depth inaccurately. Eventually, the crew couldn’t maintain vessel watch properly. They couldn’t navigate well either visually or by radar
Previous Reports of Causes
Earlier it was reported that the ship went off track as the crew was busy celebrating the birthday of one of their team members. The Panama Maritime Authority themself highlighted this cause in their statement.
“[T]he change of course is produced by indications of the captain of the boat, who gave instructions to approach about 5 miles away from the coast of Mauritius, looking for a telephone and internet signal, so that the crew members could communicate with their families”, says the new internal investigation report.
Steps Taken By Nagashiki Shipping
Till now, the Nagashiki Shipping company has restructured its safety mechanism and assured better training measures for seafarers. The company has invested 500 million yen to enhance training facilities, nautical maps, and other safety features required to prevent such spills in the future.
Recently, the company has accelerated the cleaning efforts and said that the area will be cleaned by January 2021.
Cleaning the oil spill is an important and urgent matter as it lies in a biodiversity hotspot that harbors unique marine life, flora, and fauna.
Marine Biologist, Dr. Corian Ciocan of the University of Brighton says that a massive oil spill like this will affect everything in the area which is a rare marine biodiversity area on this planet. It’s beyond the oil slick we see on the water surface.
“There will also be soluble compounds from the oil that will dissolve in the water, a mousse-like layer underneath the surface of the water, and then very heavy residues on the bed – so the entire marine ecosystem will be affected”, says Ciocan