• Kyodo

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The 17,329-ton car ferry Suisen arrived here Tuesday morning from Hokkaido, about 32 hours behind schedule after developing engine trouble and drifting for nearly seven hours in the Sea of Japan.

The remaining 177 passengers were exhausted as they disembarked, angered by a journey that ultimately took them more than 50 hours.

“I have been using the ferry for nearly 20 years and have never experience trouble of this kind before,” said Akinori Nishida, 41, a company employee from Osaka Prefecture. “It was only thanks to passengers’ requests that a rescue squad came in at Akita port.”

The Suisen’s engine quit at around 7:30 a.m. Sunday about 55 km northwest of the Oga Peninsula in Akita Prefecture, and the ship drifted for nearly seven hours as engineers struggled to fix a broken coolant pump.

The ferry arrived at Akita port Monday morning, and left that afternoon after the damaged pump was replaced.

“There was an examination at the university yesterday,” said Kohei Konishi, a 19-year-old student from Kyoto. “I think I’ve lost the required credits.”

The ship, operated by ShinNihonkai Ferry Co., left Tomakomai in southern Hokkaido at 11:50 p.m. Saturday, with 450 passengers, 159 cars and 94 trucks. Slated to arrive in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, it finally made it at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The operator originally planned to return only part of the fares for those passengers who remained on board all the way to Tsuruga. But fear of further angering passengers saw this plan abandoned.

“Our transport service (for this trip) was not such that we could take money for it,” a ShinNihonkai official said, explaining that the company will refund all fares.

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