Kenya Maritime Authority on the spot as Panama yacht sinks at Mombasa port

Indian Ocean Explore II. PHOTO/YACHT CHARTER FLEET
DETAILS OF THE VESSEL ACCORDING TO MARINE CRAFT
IMO: 6618330
MMSI: 371746000
Call Sign: HP5120
Flag: Panama [PA]
AIS Vessel Type: Pleasure Craft
Gross Tonnage: 961
Deadweight: 119 t
Length Overall x Breadth Extreme: 51.74m × 11.1m
Year Built: 1966
Status: Active

By PATRICK MAYOYO

newsdesk@reporter.co.ke

Panama flagged yacht Indian Ocean Explore II has submerged at the port of Mombasa where it has been under anchorage for more than five years following a protracted legal dispute.

The pleasure craft that is not for charter and was being used as a patrol boat is said to have sunk at Mtongwe anchorage early last week under mysterious circumstances.

According to, Mr Andrew Mwangura, of the Kenya Sea Seafarers Union, the cause of the sinking is yet to be established. Mr Mwangura however called for thorough investigations to establish the circumstances under which the pleasure craft submerged. The patrol boat can accommodate 44 guests in cabins.

It was on its sixth year of continued anchorage after a Mombasa court issued an order of stay in 2012 following a legal protracted dispute.

According to court records, Starlite Pictures SRO filed an admiralty claim against the vessel and its owners at the Mombasa law courts in 2012.

Thereafter, Mr Raphael Wambua Musau, a marine surveyor with Industrial and Marine Surveyors Ltd was appointed to appraise the yacht.

The vessel was later advertised for sale pending the determination of arbitration in London.

However, the yacht owners contested the appraisal of the vessel by Industrial and Marine Surveyors Ltd after raising reservations about their abilities to handle the appraisal.

The owners of the vessel proposed that it be appraised by Gary Smith of Sarasota Yacht and Ship who they said was a professional yacht broker with extensive knowledge of pleasure crafts.

However, the court ruled against them and appointed Mr Wambua to appraise the vessel adding that the defendant was not stopped from proposing any other local surveyor as the appraisal can be done by one or more experienced persons.

Mr Mwangura said the vessel had 14 crew members composed of 1 French master mariner, 3 Tanzanians and 11 Kenyans were abandoned at the port for 18 months without fuel, fresh water supply, and food and ship stores.

The 13 crew members of the vessel also took the matter to a court of law in Mombasa.

“It beats reasons as to how a ship can sink within the port area under the very eyes of the Kenya Maritime Authority,” Mr Mwangura said.

Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) is the regulator for maritime safety, security, preservation and protection of marine environment.

“It is also disturbing that a ship anchored within the port area can be vandalized in the day broad light by sea rovers until it sinks killing one sea rover under the watchfully eyes of police officers from the Kenya Marine Police Unit,” he added.

KMA is the regulator for maritime safety, security, preservation and protection of marine environment.

KMA inspects the conditions of ships docking at the port, their crew and cargo to ensure they are in conformity with the acceptable international and domestic shipping standards.

KMA has signed a MoU with 13 port countries in the Indian Ocean to coordinate inspection of ships.

The Indian Ocean (MoU) signed on 5th June 1998 requires that a state inspects at least 25 percent of ships docking at its ports.

Section 10 of the Merchant shipping act 2009 empowers KMA to board all Ocean-going vessels calling Mombasa port for the purpose of state port control and flag state control.

“Something must be done about the toothless and inefficient Kenya Maritime Authority,” Mr Mwangura said.

He demanded for thorough investigation to be carried out on extravagance spending at the KMA, for it is said that last year the Authority spent Ksh 600 million on travelling alone.

“One wonders whether the function of KMA officials has become that of globe-trotting while it relegates the core function of inspecting ships to the periphery?” he asked.

Mr Mwangura added that the activities of police officers from the Kenya Marine Police Unit deployed at Mtongwe anchorage need to be investigated and appropriate action taken against them.

“Two separate inquiries should be launched into the sinking of the Panama-registered patrol vessel in Kilindini harbor, Mombasa, while anchored,” he said.

Mr Mwangura said the main inquiry should be conducted by the KMA while the Kenya Ports Authority should conduct an internal probe to establish whether harbour regulations were flouted, leading to the sinking of the patrol vessel.

He said one inquiry will seek to establish the cause of the sinking, with the loss of life and the vessel worth millions of dollars.

Mr Mwangura also said there is a need to establish the ship’s ownership, classification, insurance particulars and details of the parts destroyed and vandalized by sea rovers.

Circumstances leading to the sinking of the ship this far remains unclear. This is the second time for a merchant ship to sink in the port of Mombasa.

In July 1998 a Honduras-registered cargo ship MV MIRAGE sank in Kilindini harbor, Mombasa, while being loaded.

MV MIRAGE was previously called MV BONSELA and MV BONANZA.

It has transported general cargo and livestock between Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros and Mozambique for years.

In May 1995, the ship ran aground in the northern Tanzanian port of Tanga, but it was salvaged in an expensive exercise.

It resumed sailing in 1998 when it changed ownership.

The vessel was built in 1960 and was owned by Livestock Liners Limited of Nassau, Bahamas.

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