Tue11212017

LAST_UPDATETue, 21 Nov 2017 9pm

Three Sailors Still Missing After Fatal Ship Collision

Pic: Straits TimesPic: Straits Times

A search-and-rescue mission for three missing sailors is under way in the waters off Sisters' Islands after a fatal collision between a tanker and a dredger that has already left two dead.

The accident between the Dominican-registered dredger JBB De Rong 19 and the Indonesian-registered tanker Kartika Segara took place at 12.40am yesterday, about 1.7 nautical miles south-west of Sisters' Islands, in the westbound lane in the Singapore Strait. This was where the dredger was transiting and the tanker was leaving Singapore to join the eastbound lane.

The two bodies were recovered by divers at 4pm yesterday.

The Chinese Embassy in Singapore said in a press statement yesterday that one of the casualties was a Chinese national, while the other was Malaysian.

Both were from the JBB De Rong 19, which capsized and remains partially submerged.

The dredger, managed by Malaysian company LK Global Shipping, had 12 crew members on board, comprising 11 Chinese nationals and one Malaysian.

Seven were rescued and taken to Singapore General Hospital (SGH). One person remains hospitalised, while the rest have been discharged.

The remaining person in hospital suffered chest and head injuries but is now in a stable condition and has been transferred out of the intensive care unit, said the Chinese Embassy.

The embassy said it had requested for Singapore "to further its efforts in the search, not give up hope, do their best to locate the missing Chinese crew, and to investigate the cause of the incident".

The 26 Indonesian crew members on board the Kartika Segara were unscathed. However, the ship's right front section was visibly damaged.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said both vessels had acknowledged "timely navigational information and warnings" provided by Singapore's Vessel Traffic Information System, but did not avoid a collision.

Search-and-rescue efforts, led by the MPA, are ongoing for the three crew members who remain missing.

Assets aiding the recovery efforts include two Super Puma helicopters, two Chinook helicopters and one Fokker 50 plane from the Republic of Singapore Air Force; 15 vessels from the MPA, Republic of Singapore Navy, Singapore Police Coast Guard and Singapore Civil Defence Force; and seven vessels from PSA Marine and Posh Semco. About 200 personnel are involved in the search-and-rescue operations.

The Indonesian Rescue Coordination Centre also deployed five vessels to assist with the effort in Indonesian territorial waters.

There have been no reports of an oil spill or disruption to shipping traffic in the Singapore Strait, and the MPA is investigating the incident.

Ships were also told to be on the lookout for the missing crew members, and to navigate with caution near the accident site.

An LK Global Shipping representative was at SGH but declined comment when approached.

Representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Singapore were also at the hospital to visit the survivors. Consul-General Wang Jiarong expressed his concern for the missing crew members, and said he hoped that the authorities would do their best in the search-and-rescue operations.

The latest incident comes just after a United States warship, the USS John S. McCain, collided with an oil tanker, Alnic MC, in Singapore waters off Pedra Branca on Aug 21. Ten US sailors were killed and five others injured in that incident.

The Singapore Strait is one of the world's busiest sea lanes, where vessels are sometimes separated by under a nautical mile, or about 1.8km.

- Straits Times