Iran official says Chinese vessel to blame for Sanchi sinking; others disagree

No agreement has been reached as to which vessel was to blame for the collision between Iranian tanker Sanchi and Chinese freighter CF Crystal off the coast of China, near Shanghai and the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta, on January 6th.

The Sanchi sank just over a week after the collision after burning for several days. The entire crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, are presumed dead. The crew of the CF Crystal was rescued and the ship made port in China.

Nader Pasandeh, the country’s representative on the investigating committee, reportedly said that “China and Hong Kong believe that both vessels were to blame, but Iran, Panama and Bangladesh see the veering to the right by the Crystal as the cause of the disaster”.

Pasandeh said at the weekend that the Chinese freighter CF Crystal crew’s error and carelessness and redirecting it towards the Iranian oil tanker were the main cause of Sanchi oil tanker incident. Pasandeh, deputy Director General for Seafarer’s Affairs & International Specialize Agencies of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) claimed that a redirection into a wrong path led to the collision. adding “if that mistake had not been made, the collision would not have happened. The Chinese freighter crews and officers had not noticed the Iranian oil tanker Sanchi until the collision”.

The Sanchi was heading for South Korea with the equivalent of 960,000 barrels of condensate, plus its own heavier oil fuel, when the incident occurred. The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation said that the collision led to the worst tanker spill in 35 years.

The financial damage of the sinking of Sanchi, based on NIOC estimates, is around $110m: $60m for the cargo and $50m for the vessel itself.