Panama says Sanchi’s paperwork was in order

Iranian tanker Sanchi which suffered a collision in the East China Sea on January 6th and sank eight days later, had its paperwork in order, according an initial review by maritime authorities in Sanchi’s flag state Panama.

Sanchi (IMO 9356608) sank after colliding with freighter CF Crystal (IMO 9497050), exploding, catching fire, and then exploding again and sinking after drifting into the Japanese economic zone. The ship’s crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis were probably killed in the first explosion. Three bodies have been recovered.

Panama Merchant Marine head Fernando Solorzano told Reuters that, although investigations could take months or years to complete, there was no initial sign that the stricken ship was in breach of any security protocols. “It had all the valid technical certificates on board and the financial guarantees required under international agreements,” Solorzano said in an interview, adding that an international team of experts from China, Iran, Hong Kong and the crew’s home countries would be analyzing the voyage data recorder to determine the cause of the collision.

Solorzano said all vessels sailing under the Panamanian flag had to comply with strict requirements, but conceded that the event could adversely affect the image of the registry.

Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Transport has dispatched undersea robots to inspect the Sanchi. On January 23rd they found the point of impact caused by the collision creating a hole about 35 meters long. The vessel is still leaking oil. China’s maritime authority has now detected several oil slicks in the East China Sea. The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) found a 5.4km-long, 1.4km-wide oil slick about 5km northwest of the tanker’s location. Satellite data showed three oil slicks totalling about 332 square kilometres within the monitored area.

Sanchi is entered with Steamship Underwriting (Smuab), Eastern Syndicate, on behalf of Bright Shipping Ltd.

CF Crystal, owned by Changong Group HK Ltd care of manager Shanghai CP International Ship Management of Shanghai, China, is entered with Skuld on behalf of Changfeng Shipping Holdings Lim.