Iranian-led panel said human error led to sinking of oil tanker

May 7 (UPI) — The Chinese vessel that hit an Iranian oil tanker in January failed to respond to concerns about its course, an Iranian-led investigation found.

The Iranian oil tanker Sanchi was carrying about 1 million barrels of a light form of crude oil called condensate from Iran to South Korea when it crashed into a Chinese freighter, the CF Crystal, on Jan. 6. Sanchi burned for more than a week before it sank Jan. 14, sealing the fate of the estimated 30 crew members still on board.

Nader Pasandideh, who led an Iranian panel investigating the accident, said human error was largely to blame for the accident. The crew on board the CF Crystal didn’t change direction even though it issued an alert from Sanchi about 15 minutes before the collision.

“He added that Sanchi navigating officers were also to blame given that they had failed to take a timely move to change the direction of the ship after realizing that CF Crystal was moving ahead in the collision course,” Iranian broadcaster Press TV reported.

Pasandideh said the Iranian panel’s findings were different from China’s, which put most of the blame on maritime navigation oversights from the Sanchi crew.

Greenpeace International in early February said it seemed “likely” that oil seen on the shore of the southern Japanese island of Takarajima was from Sanchi. Near its peak, the sheen from Sanchi was estimated to cover about 125 square miles.

Most of the fuel on board the vessel burned up offshore. Japan confirmed that some oil substance uncovered on its islands was likely from Sanchi based on comparisons with what was carried by the vessel.

The worst maritime spill of this kind occurred when 2.1 million barrels of oil leaked from the Atlantic Empress off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago in 1979.