South Korea's Park: Ferry Crew Conduct Tantamount to Murder

Joseph Keefe
Monday, April 21, 2014
South Korea President Park Geun-hye. (Image: http://english1.president.go.kr/president/profile.php)

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Monday the actions of some crew of a ferry that sank with hundreds feared dead were tantamount to murder, as a four-year-old video transcript showed the captain promoting the safety of the same route.

Sixty-four people are known to have died and 238 are missing, presumed dead, in the sinking of the Sewol ferry last Wednesday. Most of the victims are high school children.

Captain Lee Joon-seok, 69, and two other crew members were arrested last week on negligence charges, with prosecutors announcing four further arrests - two first mates, one second mate and a chief engineer - on Monday.

Lee was also charged with undertaking an "excessive change of course without slowing down" while traversing a narrow channel.

Several crew members, including the captain, left the ferry as it was sinking, ahead of the passengers, witnesses have said.

Park said the crew's desertion was tantamount to murder.

"Above all, the conduct of the captain and some crew members is unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, and it was like an act of murder that cannot and should not be tolerated," she told aides.

Lee, the captain, said in a promotional video four years ago that the journey from the port city of Incheon to the holiday island of Jeju was safe - as long as passengers followed the instructions of the crew.

He also told a newspaper that he had been involved in a sea accident off Japan years before.

The irony of the video is the crew ordered the passengers to stay put in their cabins as the ferry sank. As is customary in hierarchical Korean society, the orders were not questioned.

However, many of those who escaped alive either did not hear or flouted the instructions and were rescued as they abandoned ship.

Of the 476 passengers and crew on board, 339 were children and teachers on a high school outing.

"Passengers who take our ship to and from Incheon and Jeju can enjoy a safe and pleasant trip and I believe it is safer than any other vehicle as long as they follow the instructions of our crew members," Lee said in the 2010 promotional video, according to transcripts broadcast by regional cable station OBS. He was not referring to the Sewol, which came into service on that route in 2013.

The Jeju Today newspaper interviewed Lee in 2004 when he spoke of close shaves at sea including passing through a typhoon and a previous sinking off Japan.

"The first ship I took was a log carrier vessel and it capsized near Okinawa. A helicopter from Japan's Self-Defence Force came and rescued me. Had it not been for their help, I wouldn't be here now."

The newspaper did not give further details.

"I KNOW HOW HE SAID 'DAD'"


Parents of the children missing in the accident in what is likely to turn out to be one of South Korea's worst maritime disasters sat exhausted from days of grief on Monday, waiting for the almost inevitable news that their loved ones had died.

The have spent all their time since the accident in a gymnasium in the port city of Jindo, taking it in turns to vent their anger at the crew's inaction and slow pace of the rescue operation.

One of those waiting in the gymnasium was Kim Chang-gu, whose son Kim Dong-hyup is among the missing.

"I dream about him and hear hallucinatory sounds," he told Reuters. "Somebody told me he was alive but I now have given up. I know how he said 'Dad'. I keep hearing that."

Divers are retrieving the bodies at a faster pace and some parents have moved from the gymnasium to the pier to await news.

Others stay put on their mattresses in the gym, where one by one, parents are informed that a body matches a family DNA swab, prompting wailing and collapses.

Two U.S. underwater drones have been deployed in the search for bodies, a coastguard official said. Strong tides hampered operations overnight but the weather was better on Monday.

A clearer picture has started to emerge of the time around the accident after coastguards released a recording of a conversation between vessel controllers and the ship.

Witnesses have said the Sewol turned sharply before it began listing. It took more than two hours for it to capsize completely but passengers were ordered to stay put in their cabins.

According to the transcript, the controllers told the captain to "decide how best to evacuate the passengers" and that he should "make the final decision on whether or not to evacuate".

Lee was not on the bridge when the ship turned. Navigation was in the hands of a 26-year old third mate who was in charge for the first time on that part of the journey, according to crew members.

The transcript shows crew on the ship worried there were not enough rescue boats to take all the passengers. Witnesses said the captain and some crew members took to rescue boats before the passengers.

Lee said earlier he feared that passengers would be swept away by the ferocious currents if they leapt into the sea. He has not explained why he left the vessel.

Pupils at the children's school in Ansan, a gritty commuter town on the outskirts of Seoul, set up shrines to the dead and posted messages for the missing.

The vice-principal of the school, who survived the accident, hanged himself outside the gymnasium in Jindo. His body was discovered by police on Friday.

 

By Ju-min Park

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter February 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Legal

Cautious Optimism on Pacific NorthWest LNG Report

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA)  has ruled that Pacific NorthWest LNG’s project in British Columbia would likely harm harbour porpoises and contribute to climate change,

UPS Oposes CP-NS Merger

UPS, one of North America’s largest intermodal shippers, has told federal regulators that it is against Canadian Pacific Railway's (CP's) proposed acquisition of Norfolk Southern Corp.

SunEdison Restrained from 'Unusual' Asset Transfers

Solar company SunEdison Inc said a U.S. court has restrained the company from making any unusual asset transfers until a hearing in a lawsuit brought on by investors

Passenger Vessels

Interior Facelift for Queen Mary 2

Cunard’s luxurious flagship, the iconic 2,620 passenger ocean liner Queen Mary 2, will undergo an interior refit at the hands of McCue Marine during a 25-day multimillion-pound

USCG to Inspect Storm-damaged Anthem of the Seas

The storm-damaged Royal Caribbean cruise ship Anthem of the Seas is scheduled to return to New York Harbor Wednesday evening where it will be met by a team of inspectors from U.

Royal Caribbean Ship Thrashed by Storm Returns on Wednesday

A Royal Caribbean cruise ship forced to turn back early after being battered by an Atlantic storm was expected to return to its New Jersey port at 9 p.m. on Wednesday (0200 GMT Thursday),

Maritime Security

DARPA All Set To Launch Submarine Hunting Drone

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will launch in April a sleek, 132-foot warship from Portland, OR, testing its abilities over a succeeding period of 18 months.

All-Women Crew Indian Navy Ship Enters Chennai Port

The Indian Navy said on Saturday that its sailing vessel Mhadei, having an all-women crew of naval officers, has entered the Chennai Port.    The vessel which had left Visakhapatnam on February 9,

NATO Ships Arrive in Batumi

This morning, four NATO ships assigned to Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group TWO (SNMCMG2) arrived in Batumi, Georgia for a scheduled visit in an effort

Casualties

42 People Rescued after Abandoning Ship off Hawaii

Forty-two people are safe after abandoning ship approximately 1,800 miles south of the Hawaiian Islands, Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.   Crewmembers

NTSB to Search for El Faro’s Voyage Data Recorder

Second search mission to sunken El Faro seeks to locate missing voyage data recorder   The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it will initiate a

Innovative Equipment Will Help Unload Listing Ship

Following Smit Salvage’s salvage of the stricken ship Modern Express in the Gulf of Biscay, another Rotterdam company has now become involved in the rescue operations.

Coast Guard

N.E. Fishermen Warned of Extreme Cold, Wind Chills

The Coast Guard is urging the Massachusetts and Rhode Island fishing fleet to take caution heading into the weekend when life threatening temperatures and wind chills are forecasted.

Owner Fined for 'Dangerously Unsafe' Vessel

The owner of a harbor tanker has been fined £3,000 with more than £7,000 costs after pleading guilty to a charge of operating a vessel for being dangerously unsafe.

Philippines Mulls Bilateral Sea Talks with China

The Philippines may consider two-way talks with China to resolve a territorial dispute in the South China Sea but only if it wins its case with Beijing at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague,

Maritime Safety

N.E. Fishermen Warned of Extreme Cold, Wind Chills

The Coast Guard is urging the Massachusetts and Rhode Island fishing fleet to take caution heading into the weekend when life threatening temperatures and wind chills are forecasted.

Maersk to Scrap Ships at India's Alang Beaches, NGO Dismayed

Maersk Line said on Friday it had chosen four shipbreaking yards along India's Alang beaches to handle an increase in vessels that need to be scrapped, to the dismay

Video: Catapult Testing on Aircraft Carrier Abraham Lincoln

U.S. shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division has begun testing the updated catapult systems aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft

Government Update

DP World Bolsters Investment in India

DP World Pvt. Ltd, the world’s fourth biggest container port operator majority owned by the Dubai government, has plans to invest over $1 billion in India for augmenting its port-related operations.

Philippines Mulls Bilateral Sea Talks with China

The Philippines may consider two-way talks with China to resolve a territorial dispute in the South China Sea but only if it wins its case with Beijing at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague,

NATO Sea Mission Launched against Migrant Traffickers

NATO ships are on their way to the Aegean Sea to help Turkey and Greece crack down on criminal networks smuggling refugees into Europe, the alliance's top commander said on Thursday.

Ferries

BMT Provides Ferry Design for River Murray

BMT Design & Technology Pty Ltd (BMT), a subsidiary of BMT Group Ltd, has completed a design project for the South Australian Government’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI).

Meyer Turku Lays Keel of Tallink’s LNG Ferry

The keel of the Tallink’s new LNG-powered fast ferry Megastar was laid at the Meyer Turku shipyard   The hull assembly of Tallink’s new fast ferry Megastar started

PVA Elects 2016 Leadership

During the PVA Annual Convention at MariTrends 2016 held January 23-26 in Crystal City, Va., members of the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) elected Margo Marks of Beaver Island Boat Company,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
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: 0.1114 sec (9 req/sec)