Eerie 'Ghost ship' found drifting alongside Myanmar shore with crew nowhere to be found

Myanmar officials investigating a 'ghost ship' found drifting near the Yangon region earlier this week have finally solved the mystery behind it


                            Eerie 'Ghost ship' found drifting alongside Myanmar shore with crew nowhere to be found

On Thursday, a mysterious "ghost ship" bearing the name Sam Ratulangi PB 1600 was found drifting near the Thongwa township in Myanmar's Yangon region. However, the mystery behind the vessel has now been solved.

Ever since villagers first spotted the massive structure earlier in the week, the coastguard, navy and police teams have been monitoring its movement. Eventually, the rudderless vessel came to a standstill after hitting a sandbar, prompting a team to perform a full search to confirm there was no one aboard.

In a conversation with The Myanmar Times, U Ne Win Yangon, regional parliament MP for Thongwa, said, "No crew or cargo was found on the ship. It was quite puzzling how such a big ship turned up in our waters. The authorities are keeping a watch on it.”



 

U Aung Kyaw Linn, general secretary of the Independent Federation of Myanmar Seafarers, said the vessel is still in running condition. “In my opinion, the ship was recently abandoned. There must be a reason (why it was abandoned),” he said.

That said, law enforcement in Yangon confirmed that the barren ship was carrying the flag of Indonesia.

The empty cargo ship was reportedly being pulled to a ship-breaking plant in Bangladesh after "two cables... were found at its head", but it became detached due to bad weather, according to the Myanmar Navy.

The navy later found a tugboat, called Independence, about 50 miles off Myanmar's coast, and questioned all 13 Indonesian crew members on board. They learned that the tugboat had been towing the vessel since 13 August, and intended to take it to a factory in Bangladesh that would break down and salvage the ship. But, on their way, some of the cables attached to the ship broke due to bad weather and so they decided to abandon the vessel.



 

Once herculean vessels such as this one reach the end of their working lives or durability, they are usually taken to the port of Chittagong for maintenance or decommissioning. The ship's length is recorded to be 177 m (580 ft) long and it was reportedly built in 2001, according to the Marine Traffic website, which constantly logs the movements of global shipping. The last recorded position of the vessel was the South China Sea off the west coast of Taiwan. However, that data is as old as 2009.

Having said that, this was not the first time a ghost ship emerged out of the ocean mist in Asian waters. Several suspicious boats have been found drifting off the shores of Japan in recent years. While most of these vessels are found to be empty or with only lifeless corpses on board, a handful crew members from North Korea were found alive inside one of them. At the time, the ships were not as huge as the cargo vessel found in Myanmar and were mainly smaller fishing boats.

Fishing fleets in North Korea are reportedly being forced by the regime to go further and further out to sea in search of fish, thus placing their lives at risk from the government's increasingly ambitious demands, according to speculation by commentators.