The captain and first officer of a ship that ran aground on coral reef in Mauritius spilling about 1,000 tonnes of fuel have been found guilty of endangering safe navigation, under Mauritius 2007 Merchant shipping act by a court in the capital, Port Louis.
The captain, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar and his first officer, Hitihanillage Subhoda Janendra Tilakaratna, admitted to drinking moderately during a birthday party onboard.
Nandeshwar said he had given orders to approach Mauritian waters so that the crew could get phone reception to make calls to their families.
“The sea was bad but the visibility was clear and it was safe to navigate.
“At one point, the ship could not move and had touched the sea floor.
“Since I had a few drinks, it did not seem worthwhile to intervene and it did not occur to me that we were sailing that close,” Nandeshwar said.
The oil spill by MV Wakashio on 25 July, 2020, at pointe d’Esny, a known sanctuary for rare wildlife sparked an ecological emergency.
The area also contains wetlands designated as a site of international importance by the Ramsar convention on wetlands.
Nandeshwar apologised to Mauritians for the damage caused, while Tilakaratna appealed to the court for leniency.
The pair is due to be sentenced on December 27.