The National Transport Safety Board has released its final report on the sinking of a sightseeing boat off the Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido, where 20 people are killed and 6 are missing. The report stated that seawater flowed into the ship because the hatch lid on the ship's deck was not securely closed, and pointed out that the company did not have a safety management system, such as the president who had no knowledge of the ship was in the position of safety manager.

In April last year, the Japan Transport Safety Board, which has been investigating the cause of the accident, released its final report on the sinking of the sightseeing boat "KAZU 4" off the coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula, killing 1 passengers and crew and leaving 20 missing.

According to the report, the ship seems to have operated without the latch of the hatch lid on the deck, and as the weather worsened, the lid opened due to the shaking of the waves, causing the waves to cause seawater to flow into the ship.

At the same time as the flooding progressed due to a hole in the wall separating the space below the deck, the hatch lid that came off by the waves hit the glass window of the cabin and cracked, causing a large amount of seawater to flow in, leading to the sinking.

In addition, the company attributed the failure to cancel the operation despite the worsening weather on the fact that the captain had no knowledge or experience and there was no person in charge of assisting the captain in the company's office.

On top of that, President Seiichi Katsurada, who had no knowledge of the safe operation of ships, was in the position of Chief Safety Manager, and concluded that the impact was significant because the company did not have a safety management system at that time.

In addition, the Japan Small Vessel Inspection Organization = JCI, a national inspection agency, determined that there was no problem with the hatch only by visual inspection in the inspection immediately before the accident, and the Hokkaido Transport Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism was unable to grasp the problem in the audit conducted by the company, and pointed out that there was a problem with the effectiveness of the national inspection and audit.

As for the future, various measures have been strengthened after the accident, but if these measures are not implemented and complied with, it will not be possible to eradicate the occurrence of accidents.

A new photo before the accident shows a malfunction in the hatch lid

The final report analyzes the hatch into which seawater flowed in detail, including new photos before the accident.

The new photo was taken by the clerk of the Shiretoko Pleasure Boat on April 8, 2022, eight days before the accident, and shows the hatch lid.

In the photo, you can see that the hatch and the two holes in the hatch lid through which the padlock and other objects pass are slightly off, and the report says that the lid floats about 4 centimeters.

In addition, a participant in the training held two days before the accident said that the fasteners on the hatch lid were loose and the lid was floating about 15 centimeters.

This defect means that it did not appear to have been repaired by the day of the accident.

In response to an investigation by the Japan Transport Safety Board about the hatch malfunction, President Katsurada said, "We have not received a report from the captain and we are aware that there was no malfunction."

On the other hand, three days before the accident, JCI conducted an inspection, but did not visually judge the condition of the hatch lid to be in good condition and did not perform an opening and closing test, so it did not notice a defect in the fasteners.

As a result of these circumstances, it is believed that the hatch lid was not securely closed on the day of the accident, and the lid opened due to the shaking of the waves, causing seawater to flow in, and it is thought that the malfunction of the hatch had a serious impact on the occurrence of the accident.

Restore passenger camera data due to worsening weather

The final report also includes nine photographs believed to have been taken by passengers just before the accident, including the waters around the scene.

These photographs are reconstructed from the passengers' camera data found on board and appear to have been taken on the outbound route from 9:10 a.m., immediately after departure, to 8:2 a.m., about two hours before the accident.

You can't see the sea barge in the photo.

According to the operation record of the day, the delay is about 11 minutes compared to the past fixed point contact at Cape Shiretoko, the turnaround point.

However, when we passed the return trip off the coast of Kashni Falls, where the accident occurred, there was a delay of about 22 hour and 7 minutes compared to past communications. It was about 1:4 p.m.

It is estimated that there were waves of 1 meters in this vicinity at that time, suggesting that the weather deteriorated sharply, making it difficult to operate.

The report also includes telephone and radio communications with passengers and the captain, indicating that the situation had changed rapidly after 13 p.m.

At around 2:1 p.m., the captain radioed and said, "It's Kashni, it's going to take a long time to get back because I'm not speeding up," and shortly thereafter, he heard voices on the radio saying that it was flooded and that he should put on a life jacket.

The captain added, "The ship is flooded and the engine is stopped. Rescue me."

Later, at about 1:7 p.m., one of the passengers telephoned his relatives and said, "The ship is sinking, thank you for everything you have done so far."

Another passenger, who spoke on the phone with relatives for about five minutes from 1:20 p.m., said: "The sea is rough, the bow is flooded and the ship is sinking. It's about 1km to land, but it's too cold to swim. You can't even jump in. All life jackets are worn."

After 1:21 p.m., the ship sank in a short time.