Sinking of Wakashio

An expert on such matters had a lengthy article in Forbes a few days ago that has been picked up by all kinds of media all around the world:

Now the world should be better informed of all things Maritime in general and sinking of wrecks in particular.

Or what do you think??

I think these are important questions. Who is ultimately responsible? The article didn’t even dig deeper into the salvor and P&I. (Once the vessel is determined by the associated P&I Club to be a loss, is it then the insurers responsibility for wreck disposal?)

But, more importantly, if wrecks can just be towed to sea and sunk, why would anyone pay for salvage? There would be huge savings by not having to pay for proper wreck removal, towing, disposal, etc. If we are saying this is fully legal, would it have been fine to tow the Costa Concordia to deeper water and let her sink, for example? Why even take ships to the breakers in Alang when you could just send them to the deep?

These international agreements were written for a reason. In the complex world of ship ownership/management/registration/oversight/insurance I get that it is certainly a question as to whom is ultimately responsible at which stage in the lifecycle, and which regulations are applicable. But if the Wakashio situation is to be unquestioned, I don’t see it as a good thing.

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Constructive total loss is not decided by the P&I Club, but by the H&M Insurer.
The ship breakers in Alang (and elsewhere) PAY for the ship they break up.
You can wonder why all that steel was sunk if it could be sold for scrap, but I (we) don’t know the reasoning behind sinking it.

PS> It was an empty hull without any oil or oily residue. Ballast water MAY have already have been exchanged before she reached Mauritius.

Was not that concerned with the bow portion as far as pollution That aft portion will be problematic to say the least.

I always thought there wasn’t much different in the general arrangement of the aft machinery section and the forecastle area between the ULCC’s that I sailed on in the 70’s. I was relieved to find out that there weren’t two 18,000 tonne tanks of HFO immediately aft if the collision bulkhead.
I guess we will have to wait for an autopsy of the dead marine mammals.
It is a real shame that this happened to Mauritius, such a beautiful island with great food, great diving, and some incredible rum.

And they didn’t turn it into a naval weapons clusterf**k like the New Carissa.

The BS about pressure in the Forbes article doesn’t enhance the author’s credibility.

I guess my concern isn’t necessarily the potential pollutants in and of themselves. I would have to question though who made the quick determination that there was no oil, oily residue, ballast water, or any stored hazardous chemicals, paints, anchor chain windlass gear oil, electronics, anti-fouling, etc. For any other ship to be sunk as an artificial reef or disposed through proper responsible recycling this is a determination that takes time, effort, and witnesses signing off.

But regardless, you are correct about H&M. Unless I’m mistaken though once H&M declares a loss, there is still the issue of paying the Salvor to remove the wreck. And this still begs the question of whether this example is to mean that the responsible party can simply tell the salvor it looks clean, sink it in deep water, be done with it, we’ll pay you for your time. I don’t buy it.

Smit Salvage (the salvor here) are no amateurs, or Cowboys that don’t know the rules:

No it is not. Legally it is the responsibility of the Owner, who pass it on to their P&I Club for payment. (The P&I Club will normally have their representative. or 3rd party Salvage Surveyor, on site to keep an eye on the operation and make sure the job is done safely and according to contract- That includes that the money is spent wisely, not wasted…

PS> I don’t know what type of contract has been entered into here, whether it is a standard “Lloyds open Form” (LOF) with SCOPIC clauses, or some special arrangement.
If LOF was used the settlement will be decided in the Arbitration Court in London.

Oil spill mitigation is about PR. If the TV is turned on to footage of oiled pelicans or whatever that would be considered a poor response. If the footage on the news is of workers in bright yellow rain gear handling bright orange booms that would be considered a good response.

They may be why the forward section was gotten rid of so quickly, to get it out of the news. Six months or a year from now when the lawyers determine it was done improperly no one is going to care.

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Out of sight,out of mind. That was probably the strategy. Now, what to do about those dolphins?

Photos/footage of dead dolphins washed up on the beach would indicate a poor oil spill response.


I think it is more than a coincidence it is related to Wakashio somehow.

I didn’t say they are amateurs (and come on, all salvage operations are a little bit cowboy). Being one of the largest salvage contractors in the world it should be even more concerning that they were fine with agreeing to simply sink the hull rather than properly disposing of it. You’ve spent a great many words not actually commenting on this point.

The first information said the dead dolphins had all large wounds.
This would rather mean, the entire pod of dolphins was sucked into the propeller of a large ship.

I think dolphins are smarter than that. Don’t ever recall the thousands that played around my vessels ever getting in the wheel. But, you never know relating to this incident.

Yes, indeed, dolphins like to play with the ship’s bow wave.
However, the dolphin in chief may have lacked experience or was too old and stubborn…


It happens. My first chuckle today.

I have had a few jobs as Salvage Surveyor and a few as Salvage Master. I agree that you have to be able to “innovate” and improvise in salvage operations, but not being “Cowboy”.

You know that whatever you do will be scrutinized by the many parties involved and your reward for the job depends on not being caught out “playing Cowboy” or breaking too many rules.

BTW; How do you know if they didn’t remove all contaminants and checked the wreck properly before scuttling it?
I don’t know who was Salvage Master on this job, but I would think he know his job.


Maybe we have different interpretations of the word; I’ll leave it alone.

How do I know they didn’t removed all contaminants? For the sake of argument let’s assume they did. Is that the single barrier to entry prior to scuttling a vessel being salvaged? The deep ocean can now be the dumping ground for any vessel deemed free of contaminants?

Maybe we are living in different WORLDS?

Removing contaminants is a big improvement over how it used to be done. Using old ships for target practices without too much consideration of contamination is only a few small decades away.

PS> The ammunition that was dumped in the oceans as a cheap way of getting rid of it was/is a bigger risk than a few buckets of paint, or the anti-fouling on a ship, even of this size.

It would be nice if this was the biggest problem that is faced when it comes to contamination of the oceans.