Captainless ship can’t reach port


Sunday November 5, 2006

Captainless ship cant reach port


MIRI: Police investigation into how the captain of a ship who went missing in the South China Sea has taken on a choppy twist, literally.

The Indian vessel, Gita Zitt, cannot reach the port in Miri because it is too big and has anchored about 10 nautical miles away.

The crew, who are Indian nationals, cannot come ashore because they have no visas to land in Malaysia.

As a result, police have to brave the choppy sea and travel by speedboat to the Gita Zitt to record their statements.

The ship’s crew had sent an SOS to a shipping company in Miri on Thursday evening, seeking help because they could not locate their captain on board.

The ship had earlier left Bangkok with cargo to be delivered to the Kuala Baram heavy industrial estate, some 40km north of Miri city.

It will take over an hour for the police to reach the ship from the Kuala Baram coast. The sea is quite choppy now and this may slow down the journey, said one investigating officer before leaving in a speedboat.

A thorough search will be carried out on board once we have landed, he added.

A shipping industry source said the crew had wanted to steer the ship into Miri but were advised by local shiphands against doing so.

The ocean vessel weighs more than 600 tonnes and there is a danger the ship may hit sandbars near the rivermouth. The area is affected by very serious siltation due to erosion along the coast, said the source.

This sounds like a case for Mulder and Scully.