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Human error caused sinking of research vessel last year: official

Human error caused sinking of research vessel last year: official

Taipei, March 25 (CNA) The sinking of a research ship off the coast of Taiwan's Penghu Island late last year was due to human error, the Maritime and Port Bureau (???) said Wednesday. The RV Ocean Researcher 5 departed from Tainan's Anping Harbor for Kinmen on Oct. 10, 2014, but turned around due to inclement weather. With 45 people on board on the return leg, the ship hit two underwater reefs off Penghu and sank. Two researchers died in the accident. Chi Wen-chung (???), head of the Maritime and Port Bureau, said that after two meetings to study the cause of the accident, the Maritime Appraising Committee has determined that it was due to human error. Based on the information retrieved from the ship's voyage data recorder (VDR) and on images obtained in undersea photographs, it was concluded that the ship began to veer off course along the eastern coast of Jibei islet near Penghu, Chi said. Although the sea was rough, the onboard equipment should have alerted the crew that the vessel was off course and allowed them to make corrections, but the captain and the first mate failed to address the problem, Chi said. He said the VDR indicated that the ship began to divert from its course at 4:15 p.m. and it hit a submerged reef at 4:44 p.m. and another at 4:52 p.m., after which it sank rapidly. Photographs of the wreckage, which is still the ocean floor at a depth of about 40 or 50 meters, show huge rips in the midsection of the hull and near the stern, Chi said. The bureau said the vessel's fuel tanks are still holding about 100 kiloliters of fuel and it has asked the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) to salvage the ship but marine conditions have been a problem. The committee is expected to publish a comprehensive investigative report next week on the accident and detail disciplinary action against the people found culpable. The 2,700-ton Ocean Researcher 5, built by Taiwan at a cost of NT$1.46 billion (US$47.98 million), belonged to the NARL, which is under the Ministry of Science and Technology. (By Wang Shu-fen and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-09-23 23:36 GMT+08:00