A series of statements last week by the Mauritian Police about the Voice Data Recorder (VDR) of the oil spill ship, Wakashio, has attracted a lot of attention in Mauritius.
There appears to be a divergence from the accounts offered by the Panama Maritime Authorities and what the Wakashio’s Voice Data Recorder reveals.
It will be crucial that this discrepancy is properly investigated, to ensure the uncertainty surrounding the Wakashio does not continue to persist, given the impact the oil spill has had on the country which is still in a state of National Environmental Emergency.
Questions have also been asked about why other vessels in close proximity to Mauritius in the evening of July 25 did not report hearing anything on Channel 16 of their VHF radio, which is the designated at an international distress frequency by the UN’s International Telecommunications Union that regulates this bandwidth. Over the course of a day, there are between 50 and 100 large ocean bound vessels passing within a few miles of Mauritius’ coast, around one every 20 minutes.
What is known so far
The Wakashio crashed into the reefs of Mauritius on July 25 at around 7.15pm in the evening, travelling at a cruising speed of 11 knots (12 miles per hour).
Drone footage (seen in link above) shot by Mauritian investigative journalist, Reuben Pillay, was taken the following day on July 26 at around 5am as the sun was rising (i.e., within 9 hours of the crash at first light in Mauritius). It shows the condition of the Wakashio in the immediate aftermath of the grounding, including the external conditions of the bridge’s communication systems, and reveals the direction and condition of the vessel when it collided with the reefs, before the currents had the chance to significantly move the vessel.
The vessel remained on the reef for 12 days before the oil spill on August 6, and a further 9 days before it split completely in two on August 15.
In parliament on August 28, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth said, “At 20h10 the Master of the Vessel finally reported to the call made by the NCG. Whilst providing information relating to its position, its last port being Singapore, the next port of call being Brazil, the Master of the vessel informed that the vessel was on an innocent passage. After further query, the Captain stated that he had lost control of his vessel, which got grounded.”
Satellite analysis reveals there was no indication that the Wakashio slowed down or attempted to steer away from the