Warship KURAMA, cargo vessel Korea's Canina Star collide
Warship, cargo vessel collide
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
One crew member aboard the Kurama suffered burns while trying to extinguish the blaze.
Kurama fire likely caused by paint
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
The bow of the MSDF destroyer Kurama after Tuesday's collision (YUSAKU KANAGAWA/ THE ASAHI SHIMBUN)
Paint stored at the bow of the Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Kurama was likely responsible for the blaze that flared after it collided with a freighter Tuesday night, according to Defense Ministry and MSDF officials.
The 5,200-ton Kurama was apparently carrying the paint and paint thinner in larger quantities than usual for a face-lift to be applied before a fleet review last Sunday, MSDF officials said.
The fire raged for 10 and a half hours following the collision with the 7,401-ton South Korean container vessel Carina Star in the Kanmon Straits between Kita-Kyushu and Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, around 7:56 p.m. Tuesday.
The collision caused severe damage to the Kurama's bow. Six of the destroyer's 297 crew members suffered minor injuries while fighting the blaze. The freighter's 16 crew members were unharmed. A fire on the freighter was extinguished after about 40 minutes.
The government set up a liaison office to deal with the accident Tuesday night.
The 7th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters began an on-scene inspection of the ships Wednesday, citing suspicions of professional negligence endangering traffic.
Japan Coast Guard and Defense Ministry officials are also questioning the crew members of both vessels to determine the cause of the collision in the narrow straits, which are known for rapid currents.
The 44-year-old South Korean captain of the Carina Star told The Asahi Shimbun on Wednesday the ship was trying to overtake a slow-going ship and steered to the left, when the destroyer appeared.
The freighter was damaged on the starboard side near its bow.
Carina Star's Seoul-based operator, Dong Young Shipping, told The Asahi Shimbun that the captain reported it was passing the other ship from the left, as instructed by the navigation center for the straits, instead of the right.
Coast Guard officials admitted in a news conference later Wednesday that a center official told the freighter to pass the ship on the left side, and to take heed of the oncoming destroyer.
When the Carina Star went close to the Kurama, the center issued a warning. The collision occurred "dozens of seconds" later, officials said.
MSDF and coast guard vessels usually carry paint to apply over corrosive surfaces. Crew members repaint their vessels while on a voyage or when the ship is in harbor.
The Kurama was en route to its home port of Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, from a fleet review in Sagami Bay off Kanagawa Prefecture, where it had carried Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
In many cases, vessels are entirely repainted before such occasions, officials said.(IHT/Asahi: October 29,2009)
ASAHI SHIMBUN (Newspaper) website: http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200910280118.html
2010-07-27 Updated VIDEO