Japanese Tall Ship goes to aid of Fukushima Power Plant Workers
19 April 2011
Dozens of Japanese engineers engaged in containing the country’s worst civil nuclear disaster are getting their first hot food and bed-rest in days on a 110-metre merchant marine training barque docked at Onahama Port, one of the areas severely affected by the recent tsunami.
The Kaiwo Maru, which means Sea King in English, was built in 1989, is normally based in the port of Tokyo and can accommodate up to 200 people, more normally consisting of around 128 student trainees and a permanent crew compliment.
Onahama Port is around 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was severely damaged when a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan’s north-eastern coastline on March 11.
Prior to the availability of the Kaiwo Maru many of the engineers working at the stricken plant were having to sleep on the floor of the nuclear power station and had only been able to access simple pre-cooked food such as cups of noodles. Susumu Toya, the Chief Officer of Kaiwo Maru , said that the ship and crew originally arrived on March 21st and they will remain on station until their existing food supplies run out. “Our job is to provide a place for the engineers to sleep, eat, take a bath and have an opportunity to relax,” said Toya during an interview on the dock at the port which is still full of twisted cranes and cars wrapped around telegraph poles and buildings by the tsunami. “We are doing our utmost to lift their spirits” he said.
Crew on the Kaiwo, yesterday served Japanese curry and fresh vegetables to the engineers, who are trying to restore lighting in control rooms and connect power cables needed to cool the reactors and spent fuel ponds.
The Kaiwo is equipped with computers and internet access, allowing the resting engineers to contact their families, Toya said.