Photo courtesy Patrice Armance

Chinese Fishing Vessel Aground in Mauritius

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March 8, 2021

By Vel Moonien in Mauritius (gCaptain) –

Eight months after the Wakashio incident, a Chinese long liner has now ended up on the reefs off Pointe-aux-Sables, a neighboring village of Port-Louis harbor on the north-western coast of Mauritius.

Heavy swells and wind associated with Tropical Storm Iman are believed to have played a roll in Sunday’s grounding of the 40-meter F/V Lu Rong Yuan Yu 588.

The captain sent a distress call to the Mauritius Radio Service at 17.38 hours, prompting the National Coast Guard (NCG) to send several of its rescue teams to the site. Neither the local fishermen who volunteered to help nor the NCG could get close to the Lu Rong Yuan Yu 588 due to waves.

A helicopter from the Mauritius Police Force was dispatched to evacuate the 16 crew members, comprised of 14 Chinese nationals, one Indonesian and one Filipino. By 20.00 hours, all had landed safely at the Line Barracks, the police headquarters in Port-Louis.

By Sunday night, anti-pollution buoys had deployed around 357-tonnes vessel in case of spillage. Its tanks are reported to contain 130 tons of fuel.

Salvage experts from Greek company Five Oceans Salvage were expected to go onboard to assess the damage on Monday. Its tug, the Ionian Sea FOS is already on site, but was unable to intervene on Sunday night because of the adverse weather conditions.

The NCG has also requested the assistance of the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA), the body which runs the Port-Louis harbor, so that one of its tugboats can help with the salvage operation.

“Since 6:15 am, the long liner had been asking for a go ahead for bunkering and food. The health authorities had to get on board. The exercise could not take place because of the bad weather. It was therefore on stand-by when the accident occurred”, said Sudheer Maudhoo, Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping in a press statement à 21.30 hours on Sunday.

“An investigation will be carried out by the Director of Shipping to find out the circumstances of this accident,” he added. The last time an accident occurred in the port area dates back to March 2019. The He Jhen Yi, a Taiwanese fishing vessel caught fire. 50 000 liters of fuel had to be pumped from its reservoirs to avoid an oil spill as it just came to Port-Louis for refueling.

Divers conducting an underwater inspection on Monday reported no damage to the ship’s hull. Pumping of the vessel’s fuel is expected to take about 4 days.

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