Kazu I’s sightseeing route out of range of mobile phone service
18:04 JST, May 1, 2022
SHARI, Hokkaido (Jiji Press) — The captain of the sunken Kazu I sightseeing tour boat applied to change the method of ship-to-shore communications from satellite to mobile phones three days before its accident, sources said Saturday.
The boat sank off the Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido apparently hours after leaving a port in the town of Shari for a sightseeing tour on the morning of April 23.
According to the transport ministry sources, the Japan Craft Inspection Organization carried out an annual inspection of the boat April 20 on behalf of the ministry.
During the inspection, Noriyuki Toyoda, the 54-year-old captain of the Kazu I, applied to change the communications method, telling the organization that a mobile phone service was available along the boat’s route.
The organization approved the change on the spot without actually checking the availability because it had received similar information from local fishing industry people, the sources said.
But most of the area along the route is outside the range of the mobile service Toyoda applied to use for the ship-to-shore communications, according to the mobile phone company’s official website.
Seiichi Katsurada, head of the boat’s operating company, Shiretoko Yuransen, has said that the company could not make contact with the Kazu I directly by radio because the antenna installed at the company’s office was broken.
In addition, the boat apparently did not carry a satellite phone because the company’s satellite phone was broken.