Why did the 26-passenger Shiretoko sightseeing boat “forced to sail in heavy weather”? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why did the 26-passenger Shiretoko sightseeing boat “forced to sail in heavy weather”?

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Passengers of the “Kazwan” were found by a search party (Image: Jiji Press)

We knew the winds would pick up in the afternoon and the seas would be rough. It was reckless to set sail, and I still can’t believe it.

This is what a man living near the port of Utoro in the town of Shari, Hokkaido, said.

On April 23, the KAZU I (Kazuwan, 12 meters long and 19 tons), a sightseeing boat that tours the Shiretoko Peninsula, a World Heritage site, disappeared. There were 26 people on board, including two children. It was after 1:00 p.m. on the same day that the “Kazuwan” called the 1st Regional Coast Guard Headquarters (Otaru City) with a call to 118 requesting rescue. The call was urgent.

The location (about 27 km from Utoro Harbor) is by Kashuni Waterfall!

The engine is out!

We are sinking. We need help!”

At around 3:00 p.m., Shiretoko Sightseeing Boat received a message from Kazuwan, the ship’s operator, saying that the ship was tilting at a 30-degree angle, and that they had not heard from the ship since.

Kazuwan” had been cruising the western side of the Shiretoko Peninsula for about three hours. I hear that it was a popular tour for tourists because it allowed them to see brown bears, whales, white-tailed eagles, and other wild animals up close.

Why the Search is Difficult

The missing “Kazuwan” (from the Shiretoko Pleasure Boat website)

In response to the 118 call, the Japan Coast Guard dispatched seven patrol vessels and five aircraft to search the scene, but as of 6 p.m. on April 24, the whereabouts of most of the crew and passengers were unknown (the 10 who were found were all dead). (The 10 people who were found are all dead). The reason for the search was explained to the press by Itohiro Nakamura, Director of the General Affairs Department of the 1st Regional Coast Guard Headquarters.

The tidal current at the site is 2 to 4 kilometers per hour. As a general rule of thumb, people are swept away 20 to 40 kilometers after 10 hours. We are expanding the scope of our investigation.”

The “Kazuwan” left the port of Utoro at around 10:00 am. According to the Hokkaido Development Bureau, the wave height at the time was 1.9 meters, but by the afternoon it had surged to 3 meters. The wind was forecast to gradually increase.

There are several companies that operate sightseeing boats along the Shiretoko coast. However, the only one that set sail was “Kazuwan’s” Shiretoko sightseeing boat. Local residents are wondering why the boat was launched.

As of 6 p.m. on April 24, the “Shiretoko Pleasure Boat” did not respond to media requests for an interview, saying, “We want to give priority to the families of our passengers. Why did Kazuwan go out to the rough seas in bad weather? Masamitsu Morita, a meteorologist and chairman of Weathermap, explained the background, saying, “This is just a guess.

On the morning of April 23, the wind speed at Utoro Harbor was 3 to 5 meters. It is not that strong. On the other hand, the winds in the open sea were extremely strong due to the influence of a cold front. A strong wind warning was issued at sea, and the maximum instantaneous wind speed at Abashiri, about 60 km away in a straight line, was over 25 m. Even in the open sea at Shiretoko, wind speeds were between 17 and 24 meters. In other words, the winds were as fierce as a typhoon, and a small boat like “Kazhuwan” was in no condition to stand a chance.

Perhaps the company that operates Kazhuwan decided that it was safe to sail because the port of Utoro was calm. They failed to predict how rough the offshore waters would be. In the past, a major accident has occurred as a result of a miscalculation in weather forecasting: the sinking of the Seikan Liaison Ship Toya Maru in September 1954 (1,155 people were killed and 1,155 were missing). At the time, a typhoon was directly hitting the ship, but just before setting sail, the weather cleared up and the winds weakened. However, the typhoon had not yet passed, leading to a catastrophe.

On the day of the accident, the water temperature in the area was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. According to data from the Japan Coast Guard, the expected survival time for humans was one and a half hours when the water temperature was between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius, and about 45 minutes when the water temperature was below 2 degrees Celsius. …… There is not a moment to spare for the rescue of passengers and crew.

On the day of the accident, the office of the “Shiretoko Pleasure Boat” was lit but quiet
As of 1:00 p.m. on April 25, 11 people were confirmed dead.
Mr. Toyoda, captain of the “Kazwan” (from Facebook)
A group of fishing vessels going out to search
  • Photo Jiji Press

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