Coast Guard confirms m.v. Izumo sank fishing dinghy 18 nautical miles off Kerala coast

A team of officials from the Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) and the Coastal Police on Thursday boarded the Panama-flagged cargo vessel m.v. Izumo, which allegedly rammed and sank the fishing dinghy ‘Al-Ameen’ some 18 nautical miles west of Beypore on Wednesday afternoon, to seize its voyage data recorder (VDR) and navigation logbook for investigation.

The ship has been detained by the Coast Guard about seven nautical miles off Kochi. Its VDR was sealed by the force on Wednesday night to prevent tampering. On Friday, it will be decoded with the help of a software expert to corroborate the ship’s presence on the scene when the mishap occurred.

Meanwhile, Captain Santosh Kumar Darokar, MMD’s nautical surveyor in Mangalore, will inspect m.v. Izumo’s navigation log and question its Chinese master Huang Jin Bao to ascertain its involvement in the collision. The MMD swung into action following an order of inquiry into the incident by the Directorate General of Shipping on Thursday morning.

The Coastal Police at Beypore, which has launched an FIR in the hit-and-run incident in which all three fishermen on the dinghy were rescued from the sea by a nearby fishing boat ‘Sheherban’, has brought Sheherban’s crew that witnessed the accident and clicked snaps of the ship on their mobile phones to Kochi for ‘positive’ identification of the vessel, which will be done on Friday.

m.v. Izumo, owned by NYK Hinode Line Ltd, Tokyo, was en route to Singapore from Kandla in Gujarat with a cargo of soyabean. It has a crew of 21, of which 19 are Chinese and two from Taiwan and Myanmar.

The Coast Guard said it was able to pin down the suspect vessel because of “swift and proactive action” by the fishermen, who alerted the Coast Guard station at Beypore within two hours of the happening.

On Wednesday evening, a coordinated sea-air search, supplemented by location coordinates of merchant vessels at the time of the accident on the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and other sensors at the recently-commissioned Remote Operating Station (ROS) of the Coast Guard in Fort Kochi helped the force narrow down the search to two vessels — m.v. Izumo and m.v. Fenghai-II. Coast Guard District Commander and Deputy-Inspector General T.K.S. Chandran said the fishermen, whose boat was sunk in the collision, had noticed the inscription, ‘NYK Hinode’ on either side of the ship. They also made available to the force mobile camera grab of the vessel.

While m.v. Fenghai-II was let off after a brief investigation, m.v. Izumo was intercepted by Coast Guard vessel Samar about 15 nautical miles off Kochi as it matched the photograph and the location tracked by the AIS. “Its bulbous bow showed scratches and collision marks. On anchor, a Coast Guard team embarked the vessel to verify its GPS log, navigation log and passage plans and sealed the VDR. The crew, however, said they were unaware of any collision. Accidents do happen at sea, but they should have stopped and rescued the fishermen,” said Mr. Chandran.

Investigation

Biju Govind reports from Kozhikode:

A police team led by Assistant Commissioner of Police (South) K.R. Premachandran has launched an investigation into the case.

The Beypore Coastal Police Station here has registered a case against the ship under Sections 280 (rash navigation of vessel), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 427 (mischief causing damage) of the Indian Penal Code.

The police personnel along with a fisherman Rafique Puthiyapurayil arrived in Kochi on Thursday. Rafique’s nephew, Munees Kottakani, and their neighbour, Mohammed Rafi, were in the fishing boat. The three of them jumped off the boat before the ship hit it. The victims were rescued by another boat and were provided medical attention at a private hospital at Cheruvannur. Statements of the fishermen were also recorded, Mr. Premachandran said.

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