Mystery deepens over Taiwanese ghost ship adrift in Pacific Ocean

The fate of the crew of a Taiwanese long-liner adrift in the Pacific Ocean is still unknown, after a fishing vessel approached the boat today, and failed to make contact with the crew, despite photographic evidence that suggests someone may still be onboard.

The Port of Su’ao based long-liner fishing boat Yong Yu Sing No.18 was reported missing January 1, and was spotted by a fixed wing aircraft dispatched from Honolulu January 2, adrift more than 600 nautical miles northeast of Midway Island.

The aircraft made several flyovers, but there was no sign of the 10-man crew, including the Taiwanese captain and 9 Indonesian nationals.

See previous story: Missing Taiwan fishing boat spotted near Midway, no sign of crew

Aerial photographs showed that the ship had suffered damage to the hull and cabin, and the lifeboat was missing.

Poor weather and sea surface conditions prevented other boats reaching the vessel until yesterday, January 11, when the Taiwanese fishing boat, the Lian Horng No. 67 approached the boat, and attempted to determine if any crew were onboard.

According to reports, the Lian Horng ran alongside the Yong Yu Sing at around 10:00 am, and the crew called out to anyone onboard to come out of the cabin, but there was no response.

In a final attempt to rouse anybody onboard to the deck, the Lian Horng rammed the stern of the Yong Yu Sing, but there was still no response.

Before leaving the drifting boat, the crew of the Lian Horng attached an AIS transceiver to the rail of the Yong Yu Sing. Rough seas made it too dangerous to attempt to board the vessel, and the Lian Horng then proceeded south toward calmer seas.

Despite the apparently missing crew, members of the Suao District Fishery Association, including Chairman Tsai Yuan-long, say that photographic evidence suggests that somebody is onboard the Yong Yu Sing No.18.

A Liberty Times report included photographic evidence supplied by the Fisheries Agency of the Council of Agriculture, showing that boat fenders seen floating in the water on the port side of the vessel in aerial photographs taken on January 2, were then seen on the lower and top decks in pictures taken January 9.

boat fenders in the water beside ship adrift
Three boat fenders seen floating beside the vessel on January 2. Picture: Fisheries Agency via Liberty Times.
Fenders on deck in aerial photographs taken on January 9. Picture: Fisheries Agency via Liberty Times.

Taiwan’s Coast Guard dispatched the patrol ship Hsun Hu No.8 from the Port of Kaohsiung at around noon, January 11 to make the 7,000 mile voyage to the area. A round trip voyage is expected to take around 30 days.

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