PortandTerminal.com, August 25, 2020
The Government of Mauritius revealed that the operation to deliberately sink the forward section of the Wakashio was finally completed on 24 August. Rough weather conditions had delayed earlier attempts to scuttle the ship’s bow.
Photos released overnight show the dramatic final moments of the forward section of the oil spill vessel, The Wakashio.
The exact resting place of the bow is unknown – the Mauritian government will only say that it was “sunk within the Mauritian territorial waters“.
In a statement on Friday 19 August, Greenpeace Africa’s Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager, Happy Khambule, had strongly criticized the decision to sink the Wakashio, saying,
“Out of all available options, the Mauritian government is choosing the worst one. Sinking this vessel would risk biodiversity and contaminate the ocean with large quantities of heavy metal toxins, threatening other areas as well, notably the French island of La Réunion. Mauritians had nothing to gain from the MV Wakashio crossing their waters and are now asked to pay the price of this disaster. More pollution further risks their tourist-based economy and fish-based food security.”
What comes next?
The rear of the vessel remains stuck on the reef with 7,000 gallons of fuel still on board. The plan is to remove the remaining fuel from the stern and scuttle it into deep water as well.
Meanwhile, an investigation into the grounding of the ship is underway.
The Master and Chief Officer of Wakashio have been arrested by local authorities on charges of jeopardizing the safety of navigation.
The Master of the ship appeared before the court in Mauritius today (August 25) for legal formalities and has been returned to his cell where he will await his next court appearance on September 1st.
Kumar Nandeshwar, the Master of MV Wakashio, has been charged with the “unlawful interference with the operation of a property of a ship likely to endanger its safe navigation”. If convicted, he faces up to 60 years in prison.
“Do not rush to blame the crew”
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has expressed growing concern for the welfare of the Wakashio’s crew.
Chair of the ITF’s Seafarers’ Section, David Heindel, said authorities and the public should not rush to blame the crew, but instead a proper investigation was needed, to take full account of contributing factors, including allegations that the ship had crew who were working beyond legal maximums.
“Whilst we await the outcome of the investigation, it is disturbing to read news of allegations that the crew of the Wakashio is responsible for the incident.”
“Anger for this tragedy is better directed at the factors which lead to such incidents, rather than the people who happen to be in the hotseat at the time the accident occurs.”
“It has been reported that most of the crew on the Wakashio were kept on board beyond their normal contractual terms. While it would be premature to speculate on the findings of ongoing investigations, it is appropriate to remember that during the present crew change crisis, we have warned of the threat to human life, property and the environment from an increasingly tired and fatigued global seafaring workforce.”
“We find it disturbing that many of the same governments which are rushing to condemn our industry for this incident, are often the same governments which have turned a blind eye to the humanitarian disaster which may very well have caused this event in the first place.”
“Governments cannot have it both ways: if they are concerned about the accidents which may result from a tired and fatigued workforce, then they must be concerned about getting those seafarers off and replaced with a fresh crew.”
“The tragedy of the Wakashio, its crew and the Mauritian people and environment is a reminder to us all of what can happen when tired and fatigued humans are expected to keep working indefinitely. It is not sustainable nor acceptable to have seafarers continue working to the detriment of their health and mental wellbeing: mistakes will happen. Accidents like this will happen!”
Includes reporting by Offshore Energy and Forbes
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