Belize-registered ship aground in Penghu Islands after drifting crewless for four days

A general cargo ship has run aground on a reef in the Penghu Islands, after the crew abandoned ship off the coast of northern Taiwan on December 24.

The Belize-flagged, 499-gross tonnage general cargo ship HOMAO lost power due to flooding in its cabin and issued a distress signal at approximately 8 o’clock in the morning of the 24th, 52 nautical miles from Keelung. The crew of nine abandoned ship a short time later.

On the evening of the 24th, the shipowner dispatched the 1,830-ton SALVAGE CHAMPION tugboat from Kaohsiung Port to put the crippled ship under tow. However, heavy seas, and high winds generated by the northeast monsoon hampered attempts to get the vessel under control.

The SALVAGE CHAMPION approached the HOMAO 5.4 nautical miles off the coast of Hsinchu County but abandoned attempts by the crew to board the ship in winds of up to Beaufort Scale 11, and swells of 5 to 6 meters.

The Maritime Port Bureau reported at 8:36 pm Monday, December 27, that Coast Guard radar showed the HOMAO was located in a shallow reef area near Xianjiao Islet and believed to have run aground. The ship is reported to have 20 tons of diesel oil and 200 liters of lubricating oil on board.

The HOMAO is the third foreign vessel to have run aground in the Penghu Islands archipelago in the last three months. The Panamanian-flagged FORTUNE ran aground at Jibei Island in October, and remains in situ after the Hong Kong shipowners abandoned the vessel. On December 13, an offshore support platform, DONGJI NO.2, drifted and grounded on the eastern coast of Jiangnao Island after a cable snapped while it was under tow by a Korean vessel, JAEWON 9.

offshore support platform DONGJI NO.2 aground in Penghu Islands
Offshore support platform DONGJI NO.2
Chinese language news report on HOMAO aground.

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