A Taiwanese ship carrying a total of 49 crew members has vanished in a remote region of the South Atlantic Ocean. The ship did not issue a mayday distress call but it is reported that the skipper reported the ship was taking on water.
The 700-ton squid shipping vessel lost contact with its owners at 3am on February 26.
The 28-year-old vessel wasabout 1,700 nautical miles off the Falkland Islands when it vanished.
The crew includes 11 Chinese, 21 Indonesian, 13 Filipino and 2 Vietnamese sailors as well as a chief engineer.
Taiwan has launched a search and rescue effort and is in talks for assistance from Argentina and the United Kingdom (owner of the Falkland Islands) as well as sending information to other ships located in the same region.
“We still don’t know where the ship is and what happened to it,” Huang Hong-Yen, spokesman for the Fisheries Agency, told Agence France-Presse, saying the government had launched a search-and-rescue effort “immediately” after the ship’s owners said it had lost contact.
Huang added that there was no evidence the boat had actually sunk. The ship is equipped with a system that automatically issues a mayday signal when placed under a specified amount of water pressure, but no such signal was sent, Huang said.
The ship is in such a remote region of the Atlantic that the location is hindering any search efforts – Argentina officials told Taiwan that it would take 6 1/2 days to reach the area and return to land and that’s only in good weather.
Huang added that three additional Taiwanese fishing vessels are operating in the area of the Hsiang Fu Chun – and have been asked to mobile in the search for the ship.
“We’ll do everything we can even though the search is like searching for a needle in the ocean,” he said.
Huang has not given an explination as to why it has taken the company to many days to make the ship’s disappearance public.
Speculation in the problems surrounding Hsiang Fu Chun include the that ship has low power and is adrift in the ocean – others are saying it is possible that the crew hijacked the ship and have taken it off course.