Captain of oil tankship charged with accidental homicide

Authorities have arrested the captain of oil tankship Myeongjin-15, which collided with a fishing boat off the western South Korean coast on Sunday December 3rd, near the border with North Korea, and killed 15. The captain was charged with accidental homicide after he told police that he had seen the fishing boat before the collision, but thought it could get out of the way of the ship without the captain diverting from the vessel’s original course.

The 9.77 ton fishing boat capsized, killing 15 of the 22 people onboard.

“I admit that I made a mistake. I am sorry to the victims and their relatives”, the captain is reported to have said to the police.

The captain is understood to have been in the steering house of the tankship at the time of the collision. A deck hand was supposed to be with the captain to look out for possible dangers on the waters, but at the time of the collision he was down in the engine room. The authorities have not yet said which vessel was mainly to blame for the collision. One officer said that the two vessels appear to have collided while trying to pass through a narrow waterway south of Jindu Port.

By Wednesday all of the bodies on the fishing vessel, the Seonchang-1, had been recovered. The captain was found face down on a mudflat about 3km southwest of the accident site.