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Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) says ‘unsafe behaviour due to overconfidence’ was a probable cause of the grounding of the Wakashio bulk carrier which resulted in the leaking of more than 1,000 tonnes of bunker fuel.

Outlining the background of the incident based on information obtained by Wakashio owner Nagashiki Shipping Co., Ltd from crewmembers, MOL said two days before the grounding, the vessel changed her passage plan-the distance from the coast when sailing off Mauritius-from 22 nautical miles to 5 nautical miles.

On the day of grounding (July 25), the vessel tried to further reduce the distance from the coast from 5 nautical miles to 2 nautical miles, to enter an area within the communication range of mobile phones and used a nautical chart without sufficient scale to confirm the accurate distance from the coast and water depth.

In addition, MOL said a crewmember ‘neglected appropriate watch-keeping’ - visually and by radar - even though she was trying to sail 2 nautical miles off the coast. As a result, she ran aground in shallow water (10m deep) 0.9 nautical miles off the coast of Mauritius.

Presenting the probable causes, MOL said that, in addition to the circumstances leading up to the grounding, because the vessel ‘had approached to other coasts several times even before the incident’, the crew ‘may have taken unsafe behaviours due to overconfidence that stems from complacency.’

‘In MOL's view, such behaviour on a large vessel reflects a lack of safety awareness,’ the company said.

Another reason behind the cause, said MOL, is that the crewmembers ‘lacked awareness’ of the guidelines on performing navigation in a safe manner and ‘their efforts to conform were insufficient’. This was because the crew failed to 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.

MOL says it will invest the equivalent of about JPY 500 million ($4.8 million) in measures to prevent reoccurrence of probable causes.

As previously reported, in September, MOL pledged to contribute a fund of around 1 billion Japanese Yen ($9.4 million) over several years to Mauritius following the sinking of the vessel.

Last month, Nagashiki Shipping estimated that the clean-up operation for the oil spill is set to be ‘almost completed’ by January 2021,

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