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Steersman blamed for 2008 fatal ship collision

Date Posted: 2010-04-29

A 2008 collision off the Okinawa northwest coast killed three people when a cargo vessel and a fishing boat collided, and now the Japanese government has ruled the accident was caused by an unlicensed steersman.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism ruling says “the fishing boat steersman didn’t have a license, and he couldn’t tell the captain about the approaching cargo ship near the fishing boat, so the fishing boat captain couldn’t avoid the accident. It was too near to avoid a collision.” The accident October 23, 2008, occurred in darkness at 4:52 a.m., near Motobu Town and Minna Island.

Three fishing boat crewmen died in the collision. The government report said the steersman wasn’t paying proper attention to his job, and didn’t know how to change the fishing boat’s course away from the cargo ship Shuri-Maru. Officials say the steersman should have switched from automatic steering to manual steering to turn his fishing boat away, but that the man didn’t think enough to change course.

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