The operator of a very large Japanese bulk carrier that ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean in late July was the result of the crew seeking better cell phone reception, according to Reuters.
Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping released a statement Friday that said the crew of the MV Wakashio, a nearly 300-meter Cape Size bulk carrier, veered off its pre-defined course and struck a reef, causing a massive oil leak that resulted in an ecological disaster.
Based on Nagashiki’s investigation and interviews with the crew, the vessel was purposely steered off course to receive better mobile phone coverage.
“There was a 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 voyages,” the company said.
Following the incident, the shipping company will ban the private use of cell phones during working hours on all bridges of its vessels and install satellite communication systems to avoid future disasters such as this one.
When the Wakashio struck the reef, the vessel sprung a fuel leak, dumping more than 1,000 tons of fuel into the pristine waters around Mauritius. At least half of the fuel was pumped out of the ship’s fuel tank, but Mauritius’s ecosystem was severely impacted.
Why Nagashiki did not install satellite-based communication systems on the vessel in today’s age internet of things is beyond anyone’s guess.