“Ghost ship” brought into port after drifting for three days

A 7,000-tonne freighter was towed to the Port of Kaohsiung today, after being abandoned by its crew northwest of Taiwan three days ago, and continuing under power, before drifting into the Taiwan Strait.

At around 5:00am, Thursday, September 19, the National Search and Rescue Command Center received a distress call from the vessel Ji Shun, located around 50 nautical miles northwest of Cape Fugui. The captain informed the rescue center that he and his crew were preparing to abandon ship in rough seas, as it appeared to be sinking.

The Ji Shun listing heavily to starboard after being abandoned by crew northwest of Keelung, Taiwan, September 19, 2019. Picture: Taiwan Coast Guard.

The NSRC dispatched helicopters and Coast Guard vessels to the area.

At around 6:00am, two crew members were airlifted by a Ministry of Defense Black Hawk helicopter, but further airlifts were prevented by high winds generated by Typhoon Taba.

The MOD then dispatched an EC-225 Super Puma helicopter from Chiayi Airport at around 7:00am. By 10:00am the rest of the 13-member Burmese crew were successfully rescued.

However, the captain had not turned off the main engine before abandoning the vessel, and the ship continued under power on a northeast course, closer to typhoon-affected waters.

As the crewless vessel moved on a slow course of around 3 knots, the coast guard ship CG132 Taoyuan shadowed the ghost ship to monitor and prevent possible collisions.

The Ji Shun ran out of fuel early on Friday, September 20, then began drifting southwest toward the Taiwan Strait.

Yesterday, Saturday, September 21, the ship was located in calm waters off the coast of Hsinchu County.

The shipowners hired the 10,000-horse-power tug “Salvage Champion” from the Port of Taichung, and the Ji Shun, listing heavily to starboard, was boarded and secured with a towing cable.

The Ji Shun was towed through the night and reached safe waters near the Port of Kaohsiung at around 3:00pm today, September 22.

Sources: United Daily News, Up Media.

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