Captain Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, the 58 yeear old master of the MV Wakashio bulk carrier that had run aground, leaves from the courtroom after he was arrested and charged under the piracy and maritime violence act in Port Louis, Mauritius August 18, 2020. Picture taken August 18, 2020. Defimedia Group/Handout via REUTERS
Captain Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, master of the MV Wakashio bulk carrier that ran aground on a coral reef, causing a large oil spill, was arrested and jailed by a district court in Port Louis, Mauritius yesterday. Captain Nandeshwar, and Indian national, was arrested alongside the chief officer, Tilak Ratna Suboda, a Sri Lankan and charged with endangering safe navigation under the piracy and maritime violence act.
Local news media and police have reported that prior to the grounding incident, the carrier sailed close to the Mauritius coastline to get a Wi-Fi signal because the crew was celebrating a birthday.
“We are carrying out a full investigation and interviewing all the crew members,” Local police inspector Sivo Coothen told reporters. Both will remain in custody until their bail hearing.
Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) which chartered the MV Wakashio, issued a press release today acknowledging the arrest but offered no words of support for the officers in jail.
“The Master and Chief Officer of Wakashio have been arrested by the local authority on August 18.” says the MOL release. “MOL is fully aware of its responsibilities and will continue to work with the relevant authorities of Mauritius and Japan.”
MOL also stated that it dispatched a team of 6 employees and some equipment to assist in oil recovery efforts but will wait to “dispatch an additional team in later August”.
In contrast to MOL’s lack of support in the wake of this arrest, Nagashiki Shipping did promise a degree of help. “We will continue to support the crew and their families while awaiting future judicial decisions.” said a company official in today’s official statement. “We sincerely apologize for causing a great deal of inconvenience to everyone involved.”
Neither of today’s statements mention the fate of the MV Wakashio’s 18 other Indian, Srilankan, and Phillipino seafarers after the arrest of their Captain but media reports suggest they are currently being interviewed by police.
The captain and chief officer’s next court appearance is currently set for August 25th.
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