YOKOHAMA – A Philippine-registered containership sank after it collided with a freighter early Thursday morning at the mouth of Tokyo Bay, forcing all 25 Filipino crewmen on it to evacuate in lifeboats, the Japan Coast Guard said.
No injuries were reported and all crew members were recovered after the collision, which took place at around 5:20 a.m. in foggy conditions, the Coast Guard said. Visibility was less than 200 meters at the time, it said.
The 498-ton freighter Tsugaru Maru, with five crewmen on board, hit the port bow of the 6,182-ton containership Eastern Challenger about 9 km northwest of Sunosaki Lighthouse in Tateyama, Chiba Prefecture, on the Boso Peninsula.
The containership stayed afloat for nearly seven hours before sinking shortly after noon on Thursday, the Coast Guard said. The crew was rescued by the patrol ship Amagi and other ships.
The Tsugaru Maru managed to enter Nagaura Port in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, without assistance.
According to Kanagawa Prefectural Police, the Filipino ship has been used for smuggling guns and bullets, and two Filipino crew members were arrested in January for violation of the Firearm and Sword Control Law.
The containership, carrying steel, was heading to Yokohama from the Philippines via Osaka, while the freighter was transporting animal feed ingredients from Chiba to Tomakomai, Hokkaido.
The Coast Guard is questioning the skippers of the two vessels to investigate the cause of the collision.