Careless mate responsible for Singapore ship's sinking of Vietnamese fishing boat, deaths: authorities

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  Singaporean cargo vessel Sima Sapphire when it was held by Vietnamese maritime authorities in September / PHOTO: NGUYEN LONG

Vietnamese authorities have concluded that a collision between a Singaporean container ship and a local fishing boat that killed eight people in September was caused by the negligence of the ship's second mate.

The Vietnam Maritime Administration announced its findings Wednesday and handed them over to police in the southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau, where the accident took place, for further investigation.

On September 16 Sima Sapphire collided with the boat, which was carrying 16 fishermen, some 54 nautical miles off the coast of Vung Tau town.

The boat sank but the ship's crew managed to rescue eight of the fishermen.

After the accident the ship was held for investigations but was released later, while its Ukrainian master Koba Mykola and the second mate, identified as Sergiy Plakida, 33, have been prohibited from leaving Vung Tau.

According to the maritime administration, the vessel left Ho Chi Minh City September 15 for Klang Port in Malaysia.

When it reached Vung Tau around midnight, Mykola handed over the deck to Plakida.

But the mate failed to keep an eye on the ship's radar and failed to notice the fishing boat.

The radar had detected the boat sailing in the opposite direction 20 minutes before the collision, and the ship's black box also showed that during his shift, Plakida played music very loudly.

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On seeing the boat, he failed to steer the giant vessel away to avoid the collision.

The fishing boat was not on guard despite having one fisherman on watch.

Sima Sapphire's owners paid US$260,000 to the fishing boat's owner, $13,000-19,000 to each dead man's family, and $4,000 to each survivor.

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