Vietnam navigator faces suspension for ship collision

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Authorities in the southern beach town of Vung Tau are considering suspending the license of a navigator for causing a collision between a Vietnamese vessel and a Thai ship that sunk the former last month.

In his letter to the Ba Ria Vung Tau Province's People's Committee on Monday, Le Van Chien, director of Vung Tau Port Authorities, proposed that Dao Van Hai, navigator of the Thai-owned Krairatch Dignity Ship, have his license suspended for nine months and be fined VND25 million (US$12,000).

The port authority made the proposal after announcing its conclusions on the collision on May 11.

The wreck sank Chu Lai Truong Hai Sea Shipping Company's 4,000-ton Truong Hai Star.

The ship sank on April 9 together with 40 empty containers, and 26 containers that held 52 trucks, 12 cars, and their accessories. No casualties were reported.

A report on the provincial website quoted the conclusions as saying that six minutes before the accident happened, Hai, 56, did not contact the Truong Hai Star, although he was aware that the Vietnamese ship was changing its direction in front of the Thai ship.

The navigator of Vung Tau Navigation Factory did not consult the Thai ship's captain, nor warn the latter of the risks, either, the report said.

About four minutes later, although the risks were still present, Hai did not focus on his duty but was busy contacting the captain of a navigator canoe in order to get picked up off the ship.

The port authority also said that while the captain of the Thai ship failed to discuss the issue with the navigator and let him direct the ship on his own, the captain of the Truong Hai Star did not assign a crew member to watch the other ship, as is regulated by law.

More than one month after the accident, rescuers recovered the wreckage of the Truong Hai Star Saturday.

Meanwhile, the 41,000-ton Thai ship left Vung Tau for Indonesia on May 11 after its owner signed an agreement to pay over $3.8 million in damages for the accident, Chien said.

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