S.Korean Ferry Master Faces Investigation

Joseph Keefe
Thursday, April 17, 2014

The captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized off the southwest coast was facing a criminal investigation on Thursday, an official said, amid unconfirmed reports that he was one of the first people to jump to safety as the vessel began sinking.

The Sewol ferry was carrying 475 passengers and crew when it capsized on Wednesday. The government has said nine people were found dead and 179 had been rescued, leaving about 290 people, most of them teenaged school children, missing and possibly trapped in the vessel.

The captain, identified as Lee Joon-seok, 69, is being questioned by the coastguard and is the subject of a criminal investigation, a coastguard official said.

Media reports said he was facing the possibility of charges of negligence leading to death and also for violating a law that stipulates the conduct of shipping crew. Coastguard officials could not be reached for further details.

"It's still an early stage and we're questioning the circumstances," said one coastguard official in the town of Mokpo, which is the centre of the investigation.

Television showed the captain sitting hunched over, wearing a hooded jacket, at the coastguard centre in Mokpo on Thursday.

"I apologise to the passengers and victims and families," he said, declining to answer questions about what happened and why he abandoned the ship when he did.

Coastguard investigators have not given reporters access to the captain since then.

Lee was filling in for the regular captain, who was on leave, but had been at sea for 40 years and had travelled on the route before, ferry operator Chonghaejin said.

No survivor has been able to specify exactly when the captain left the vessel although several said he left early. At the time, other witnesses said, the crew was asking passengers to remain calm and stay where they were.

"MAD AS HELL"


One survivor told a South Korean television station: "I was one of the first ones to jump on a coastguard boat and there were several others, and I heard from one of the rescuers that the captain was on the boat before me."

Other survivors also said the captain was one of the first to be rescued. Coastguard officials declined to comment when asked for confirmation.

The ferry operator declined to comment on the captain's action, saying it was under investigation by the coastguard.

Families of the missing were outraged at the reports of the captain being one of the first to jump ship.

"It's despicable and I'm mad as hell, but this is really not the time to talk blame, it's the rescue of these kids that comes first," said Lee Yong-ki, father of one of the missing children.

About half of the 30 crew members have been rescued.

It took the ferry about two hours to sink and most of the survivors were those who made it out on to the deck and then waited for help, holding on to the rails, or jumped into the sea to be picked up by rescue boats.

The crew was appealing to the passengers to remain where they were when it started sinking.

"It is outrageous that they didn't tell people to get out," said Choi Min-ji, one of the high school students who survived.

"They kept saying 'stay put' even when the water was coming in. I almost got trapped too and barely came out alive. If they did it (told people to get out) there would have been fewer casualties."

Another survivor, Lee Tae-ju, 68, said some people believed the order to stay put sounded reasonable at the time.

"The ship was listing sharply, so I would have tried to tell people to stay put if I were them, just to keep calm. What can you do? In any case, the ship was listing so sharply it would have been almost impossible to get out."

 

By Narae Kim

 

Maritime Reporter August 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Legal

Wärtsilä Scrubbers for Finnlines Vessels

Finnlines, a Ro-Ro and passenger vessel operator with services in the North and Baltic Seas, has contracted Wärtsilä to supply three of its vessels with exhaust cleaning scrubber systems.

MHI, SBG Invest in Wind Energy Startup Altaeros Energies

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. ("MHI") and the Suhail Bahwan Group ("SBG") have invested in Altaeros Energies, a Massachusetts-based technology company, to

DP World H1 Earnings Jump, Mulls Iran launch

DP World may launch operations in Iran, the company's chairman said on Thursday, as the global ports operator reported a jump in half-year earnings after buying assets from its parent company.

Navigation

Sailboat Catches Fire off Honolulu

A sailboat with five people aboard caught fire off Honolulu, Thursday, promting responsefrom the U.S. Coast Guard who sent a 45-foot Response

Damen's Ship with Van der Velden FLEX Tunnel Commissioned

The first ship outfitted with the Van der Velden FLEX Tunnel was named Friday, August 14th in Duisburg. The Rhenus Duisburg, the new barge combination from shipping company Rhenus PartnerShip,

USCG, Royal Canadian Navy Conduct Jt Exercise

U.S. Coast Guard crews from Southeastern New England conducted various evolutions with the Royal Canadian Navy to train and improve the inter-operability of

Patrol Boats

Malaysia, Indonesia Team up to Fight Piracy

An increase of incidents of piracy and armed robbery in SouthEast Asia has prompted Malaysian and Indonesian law enforcement to form a joint rapid deployment team in response,

France Negotiating With Egypt over Helo Carriers

Two Mistrals were originally destined for Russia. France is in talks to sell two Mistral helicopter carriers to Egypt after their sale to Russia was cancelled earlier this month,

U.S. Asia-Pacific Drills to Increase

The United States plans to increase the number of military and humanitarian drills it conducts in the Asia-Pacific as part of a new strategy to counter China's rapid expansion in the South China Sea,

Passenger Vessels

Wärtsilä Scrubbers for Finnlines Vessels

Finnlines, a Ro-Ro and passenger vessel operator with services in the North and Baltic Seas, has contracted Wärtsilä to supply three of its vessels with exhaust cleaning scrubber systems.

MN 100: Blount Boats, Inc.

The Company: Over time, the Blount shipyard has built 363 vessels, including such iconic designs as the 130-foot, 600-passenger Miss Liberty. Built in 1952, the

USCG Plans to Up Passenger Boat Enforcement

Coast Guard to step up enforcement of passenger boats along Florida’s coast, reminds passengers to “Ask the Captain”   The U.S. Coast Guard and partner agencies

Salvage

Fishing Boat Catches Fire off Maine

U.S. Coast Guard crews from Station South Portland, Maine, and Air Station Cape Cod responded to a report of a fishing boat fire Wednesday, about six miles from Jeffreys Ledge,

Collaboration Helps Save 2 from Sinking Yacht

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Alpena Sheriff's Department and several good Samaritans are assisting two men aboard a 42-foot sailboat that began taking on water early

Grounded Vessel Creates Delays in the Suez Canal

Southbound vessel grounded in Suez Canal causes delays and tailbacks   A southbound vessel ran aground in the Suex Canal at 1430 local time today at KM 101, causing delays and tailbacks,

Coast Guard

North Korean Black-listed Ships in Russia

 North Korean vessels owned by Ocean Maritime Management (OMM) have been seen using Russian ports, says the NK News vessel tracker.   OMM was sanctioned

Sailboat Catches Fire off Honolulu

A sailboat with five people aboard caught fire off Honolulu, Thursday, promting responsefrom the U.S. Coast Guard who sent a 45-foot Response

Fisherman Hit by Parted Line Lifted to Safety

A fisherman struck and injured by a parted line was medevaced south of San Juan Island and transported to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, Wash. Thursday morning.

Maritime Safety

Russian-Chinese Naval Drills End

The second phase of the Russian-Chinese Joint Sea-2015 naval maneuvers has officially ended outside the port of Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East, says spokesman

USN Observes Suicide Prevention Month

While September is Suicide Prevention Month, subject matter experts from the 21st Century Sailor Office's Suicide Prevention Office, OPNAV N171, say their goal

North Korean Black-listed Ships in Russia

 North Korean vessels owned by Ocean Maritime Management (OMM) have been seen using Russian ports, says the NK News vessel tracker.   OMM was sanctioned

Government Update

Oil Steadies as Equities Rally

Recovering stock markets boost oil prices; U.S. crude on track for first weekly gain in nine weeks. Oil prices steadied on Friday after bouncing back from six-and-a-half-year

Oil Soars in Biggest One-day Rally in Years

Oil rocketed as much as 10 percent higher on Thursday, posting its biggest one-day rally since 2009 as recovering equity markets and news of diminished crude supplies

Great Lakes Shipyard to Build Guatemalan Harbor Tug

U.S. shipbuilding and repair yard Great Lakes Shipyard informs it has signed a contract to build another of its HandySize Class, 3,400 HP twin-screw tugboat for

Ferries

MN 100: Blount Boats, Inc.

The Company: Over time, the Blount shipyard has built 363 vessels, including such iconic designs as the 130-foot, 600-passenger Miss Liberty. Built in 1952, the

USCG Plans to Up Passenger Boat Enforcement

Coast Guard to step up enforcement of passenger boats along Florida’s coast, reminds passengers to “Ask the Captain”   The U.S. Coast Guard and partner agencies

MPA Leads Ferry Emergency Exercise

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) held a half-day emergency preparedness exercise, codenamed 'FEREX 2015' August 21. The annual ferry exercise

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 1.2517 sec (1 req/sec)