One candidate committed suicide, another attempted to take his own life by jumping off the ship at sea and a third went on the lam rather than continue a three-month voyage aboard a training vessel for would-be seafarers in July.

The incidents were disclosed Aug. 30 by the Japan Agency of Maritime Education and Training for Seafarers headquartered in Yokohama. The agency oversees the Maritime Technical College, where some of the trainees study.

The Seiun Maru embarked on its voyage July 1 with 127 students from the technical college in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and other colleges to teach commercial seamanship.

Built in 1997, the training ship has a gross tonnage of 5,890 tons and measures 116 meters from bow to stern.

The practical training is an essential step to gaining a license to become a marine navigator or engineer.

In the first case, a 19-year-old trainee jumped into the sea while the ship was anchored far off the coast of Kagawa Prefecture on July 13. The lad was later found safe in a coastal area.

“I started to worry about whether I was cut out to be a sailor," the student told his teacher.

In the second incident, a 20-year-old student disembarked July 22 when the ship stopped at Kobe Port to talk with his family about whether to continue with training course. It was learned July 28 that he had killed himself. No suicide note was found.

In the third case, a 21-year-old candidate went AWOL on July 30 during shore leave while the vessel stopped at Nagoya Port.

Prior to leaving, he sent an e-mail message to his family disclosing his intention to drop out of sight.

“I will go missing. I do not want to continue with ship-related life,” he wrote.

The agency sought to ascertain whether the candidates had been bullied or subjected to “power harassment” during the training, but the students and teachers disavowed any knowledge of this.

The Seiun Maru is continuing its voyage in spite of the incidents.

The agency said it will establish a third party committee in September to get to the bottom of the matter.

Last year, a student aboard another training ship operated by the agency committed suicide.

Given that these cases occurred in quick succession, the agency vowed to improve its educational system with guidance from the committee.

The transport ministry's Maritime Bureau set up a task force on the incidents involving the Seiun Maru and instructed the agency to carry out a detailed investigation.