The Captain of the MV Wakashio Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar maintains that it was due to the negligence of the Chief Officer, Tilakaratna Subodha, that the grounding of the ship occurred. It was during his hearing on the 17th February 2021, at the old Supreme Court, that Captain Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar explained that the Chief Officer did not follow his instructions, which led to the grounding of the Wakashio.
The Captain of the MV Wakashio Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar said that he noticed the ship was slightly off track after he left the Chief Officer in charge and that he immediately instructed him to alter the position of the Wakashio for it not to drift further towards the coastline. Captain Nandeshwar recounted that his instructions were to stay 5 nautical miles away and given that the ship was slightly off track, the Chief Officer was meant to alter the trajectory. To which he further explained that the Chief Officer did not follow his instructions immediately but only 40 minutes later.
The inaction of the Chief Officer is what the Captain deems to be responsible for the ship getting really close to the coastline, which was a distance of one and half nautical miles. Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar also admitted that he was under the influence of alcohol which is why he did not take command of the ship when he realized the Wakashio was one and half nautical miles away from the coastline.
Moreover, conversations held on deck and recorded by the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR), showed that the Captain was very much interested in obtaining the mobile hotspot that the Chief Officer was to provide.
“We are very very close to the land, just one and a half-mile away. If we cannot get it now, we will not get it”, said Captain Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar seconds after alerting the Chief Officer about being close to the coastline.
To which the former Puisne Judge Abdurrafeek Hamuth pointed out that the concern switched from safety of the ship to mobile network and he wondered if the Captain’s judgment was impaired from the consumption of alcohol. The Captain was also asked if he deemed himself to be disrupting the Chief Officer while he was on duty to which he replied that the Chief Officer was also looking for a mobile network and that it was not just him.
“I trusted the Chief Officer to have taken the precautions.” He added when asked if he deemed himself to be disruptive.
The session ended thereafter. The captain’s hearing will resume next Monday, 22nd February at 10 am.