The “ghost ship” identified as the M/V Sam Ratulangi that was found mysteriously drifting in the waters near Yangon in Myanmar recently was registered under Palau on July 19 this year for a voyage from Tanjung Priok, Indonesia to Chittagong Bangladesh and was under tow for scrap according to international convention requirements, Palau International Ship Registry (PISR) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Panos Kirnidis said.
A statement sent to the media from the Office of the President revealed that PISR has conducted an investigation following the reports of M/V Sam Ratulangi being discovered floating in the waters of Myanmar. The ship was found unmanned and without cargo, hence earning the label “ghost ship.”
According to Kirnidis, Sam Ratulangi was towed from Indonesia to Bangladesh when it encountered severe storm with strong winds midway its voyage.
Reports from the local media in Myanmar said that the ghost ship was found by fishermen on August 29. Two days after its discovery, 13 Indonesian crew men on board a tugboat that reportedly towed the vessel were found by the Myanmar Navy 80 kilometers away from Myanmar’s coast.
“[The] towline broke off from tug and tug crew failed to reconnect it to the tug, and the vessel drifted. The vessel was unmanned, in ballast condition, and with no cargo,” the statement furnished to the Palau media reads.
“The Myanmar Maritime Administration has contacted the owner to deal with the situation. As we speak the investigation is underway so we will report to the Republic of Palau on the progress of the matter accordingly”, Kirnidis was quoted in the statement.
Myanmar reporters also stated the 13 Indonesian crew members on board the tugboat that towed the ghost ship said that they had been towing the vessel since August 11. Tugboat crew members reportedly said that they intended to take the vessel to a ship-breaking factory in Bangladesh where it is destined to be dismantled.
The 13 crew members reportedly admitted failure to inform the authorities of Myanmar about the incident. They are reportedly held in detention in Kawthoung, a town in the Southernmost part of Myanmar, for further investigation. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)