Freighter sank off northeast Japan in 2020 after sudden change in course: report

The Japan Transport Safety Board has compiled a report on the sinking of a cargo ship off northeastern Japan four years ago that left 13 foreign crewmembers missing.

The Belize-flagged freighter Guoxing-1 collided with a Japanese fishing boat, the Daihachi Tomimaru, and sank off Rokkasho Village in Aomori Prefecture in February 2020.

Thirteen crew members on the cargo ship, including Chinese and Vietnamese nationals, remain missing.

The JTSB report released on Thursday says the fishing boat was heading southward while the freighter was sailing north, toward South Korea.

The report says the freighter was east of the fishing boat, but suddenly shifted course to the northwest. The two vessels collided shortly afterward.

It says the freighter may have changed course to avoid a collision with another fishing boat, but the reason remains unclear because the crew member who was on watch is still unaccounted for.

The report says the Daihachi Tomimaru continued sailing as its crew saw the freighter's lights and assumed it would safely pass in front of their vessel.

The crew members were reportedly monitoring the fish finder, and failed to notice the approaching freighter.