Coast guard arrests captain over deaths on capsized ship

Kyodo

The Japan Coast Guard on Thursday arrested the 56-year-old captain of a ship that capsized after being hit by Typhoon Songda earlier this week, killing three crew members.

Vladimir Melentyev, Russian captain of the 3,249-ton Blue Ocean, a Cambodian-registered lumber carrier, is suspected of professional negligence resulting in death, the coast guard in Hiroshima said. The accident occurred Tuesday.

The Blue Ocean arrived at the lumber dock in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, on Monday morning and began unloading its cargo. The ship’s agent and coast guard officials then told the captain to move the vessel away from shore to protect it from the approaching typhoon, according to an investigation.

Melentyev did not heed the warnings and stayed at the dock. He was quoted as telling investigators that he believed the ship would be all right where it was.

However, he decided around noon to take the vessel out into open waters, but could not because of strong winds.

The ship repeatedly smashed against the pier and sank at around 2:50 p.m.

Three of the 18 crew members died in the accident, and a fourth man, identified as Vycheslav Pugachev, 22, remains missing.