Freighter may have hit missing skipper’s trawler

Kyodo

The Japan Coast Guard inspected a foreign-flagged car-carrier ship Tuesday suspected of involvement in a collision in the Pacific off Miyagi Prefecture in which a tuna boat capsized and its captain is listed as missing, officials said.

The 19-ton tuna trawler Yujin Maru No. 7 from Susaki, Kochi Prefecture, capsized Sunday morning after apparently being hit by another ship about 300 km southeast off Kinkasan Island. Of the trawler’s nine crew members, eight were rescued, but skipper Hiroshi Yoshizawa, 52, remains missing.

Officials from the Second Regional Coast Guard Headquarters based in Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture, boarded the 57,600-ton car carrier NOCC Oceanic, which is now anchored off Sendai port, to ask the crew about the circumstances, including its sailing route, and to inspect its hull for signs of a collision.

The car carrier is registered to the Marshall Islands and operated by a Norwegian shipping company.

The Coast Guard is continuing the search for Yoshizawa, who hails from the city of Kochi.

“The trawler listed after being hit by another ship while I was sleeping,” chief engineer Hiroshi Matsumoto, one of the rescued crew members, told reporters Monday evening in Shiogama.

“I realized the trawler would split in two after we got in a lifeboat,” said Matsumoto, 57, from Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture. The other rescued crew members are Indonesians.

Matsumoto said cloudy weather prevented him from being able to see the stern of the ship that apparently hit the trawler, and he could not read the vessel’s name.