Skipper Dies In Shoko Maru Blast
By James Donahue
The captain of the small 265-foot Japanese tanker Shoko Maru perished when his ship exploded May 29,
2014 while moored off the port of Himeji, an industrial island along the southwest coast of Japan. Four other crew members
were hurt, two of them seriously burned in the blast.
The ship, commanded by Captain Masaichi Ando, 64, had just unloaded a cargo of crude oil and was anchored
offshore while the seven members of the crew were involved in general maintenance.
The explosion was believed to have been caused by a spark from a power grinder that was being used
to remove rust from the hull, authorities said. The vessel exploded in a giant fireball that was seen for miles.
Three rescue ships from the Japanese Coast Guard rushed to the scene and managed to rescue the seven
survivors. The Coast Guard also battled the fire until the Shoko Maru sank in shallow coastal waters about 10 hours after
Ando’s body was later found by divers in one of the ship’s hulls.
The tanker was owned by Shoho Kaiun of Hiroshima. It was launched in 1994.