On the night of February 2, two Japanese cargo ships crashed into each other while going through the Kurushima Strait in the Seto Inland Sea. One of the ships flipped over and sank. Three of the crew were found, but the captain and first officer, who were both reported missing, were still being looked for. TV images appear to show that at least one person has died. The second vessel was damaged but able to proceed to port with no injuries to the four crew aboard.
The Japan coast guard Imabari station received reports of the collision at 7:30 p.m. local time on February 2, dispatched a patrol boat, and received assistance from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and nearby fishing vessels. Three members of the crew were rescued from the water.
Officials say that, in addition to being a very busy sea route, the strait is also one of the most difficult to navigate because the direction of the tidal current makes it hard to know where to go. Getting through the strait changes from one side to the other based on how the current moves. Several accidents have happened in the strait, including a crash between a cargo ship and a tanker in May 2021 that killed three people.
At the time of the crash, the two ships were near the west end of the Kurushina Strait. The 2,100 dwt cargo ship Seiryu, which was carrying a load of limestone, had left Tsukumi Port and, after stopping in Hiroshima, was heading toward the strait on its way to Fukuyama Port, where it was due to arrive on February 3.
The Coast Guard thinks that the 1,700 dwt cargo ship Koei Maru was coming out of the strait on a trip from Osaka. The last AIS report shows that the Seiryu was going about 10 knots when the bow of the Koei Maru seemed to have hit her. The Seiryu capsized and later sunk.
Videos taken at the scene and later at Imabari port show that the collision damaged the bow of the Koei Maru. On Friday morning, the Japan Coast Guard said that the ship could go to Imabari.
A special rescue team was there, and they were also using a submersible to look around inside the ship that had sunk. So far, they haven’t found any trace of the two officers who went missing from the ship.