Japanese transport investigators say a cargo ship that wrecked off the island nation Mauritius in 2020 did not have a detailed sea chart when it approached the island.
Japan Transport Safety Board published a preliminary report on the cause of the accident, which resulted in a massive leak of fuel oil into the ocean. The vessel was chartered by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, a Japanese firm.
The report says the captain instructed crew members to bring the ship closer to the shore of the island in a bid to capture mobile phone signals, despite having no detailed sea chart.
The navigation officer positioned the vessel in parallel with the shoreline, but was unable to detect obstacles such as coral reefs, resulting in the ship running aground in shallow waters.
An analysis of the Automatic Identification System, or AIS, designed to track the positions and identifications of vessels, showed the chartered ship also veered off a normal route off Sumatra Island in Indonesia before reaching waters near Mauritius.
Crew members told investigators that their vessel has come close to the shore to catch mobile signals during previous voyages.
The transport safety board said that to prevent such accidents, all vessels that sail through coastal waters should be equipped with appropriate local sea charts. It also pointed out that vessels should not be brought close to shore without a legitimate reason.