MV Wakashio / Nagashiki Shipping

Indian Ocean - Japan ship deviated from shipping lane before Mauritius impact, data shows

The Japanese-owned bulk carrier that ran aground off Mauritius and spilled oil over pristine waters and fragile coral reefs diverted more than 100 kilometres from a regular shipping lane, data from a maritime analysis firm showed.

The MV Wakashio, owned by Nagashiki Shipping and chartered by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, struck a coral reef on Mauritius’s southeast coast on July 25 and later began leaking oil. Two of the ship’s officers have since been arrested on charges of endangering safe navigation.

The iron-ore carrier was using a well-travelled shipping lane that passes near Mauritius when the accident happened, according to maritime analysis firm Windward and shipping sources.

It appears to have deviated from that lane about 55 nautical miles (102 km) from Mauritius and headed straight for the Indian Ocean island, the data showed. The data shows the ship’s track during the last few hours of its journey, including a minor turn after crossing into Mauritius’ territorial waters.

“It was on a very bad trajectory,” Omer Primor, Windward’s head of marketing, told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear why the ship appeared to deviate from its course. Tracking data for other cargo vessels passing close to Mauritius recently show them all sticking to the shipping lane.

The Mauritius coast guard had repeatedly tried to reach the ship to warn it that its course was dangerous but received no reply, Reuters reported this week.

When asked about the Windward data, a Nagashiki Shipping spokesman said: “We have submitted our route record data to the police, but we cannot comment on the data, as the police are investigating the incident”.

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