Marines prepare to board the Fin Shul Yuen 2, an abandoned ship found in the Gulf of Thailand off Surat Thani on Thursday. The ship sank on Saturday while being towed to shore. (Photo by Royal Thai Navy)
SURAT THANI: An old ship of unknown origin found adrift near an oil rig in the Gulf of Thailand sank while towed ashore for examination on Saturday evening, according to Rear Admiral Surasak Pratanworapanya, Deputy Director of Thai Maritime Law Enforcement Command Center Zone 2 (Thai-MECC).
The ship, believed to be an abandoned cargo ship, was first seen drifting on Wednesday near an oil rig run by Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production Ltd (Chevron Thailand) about 70 nautical miles southeast of Koh Samui.
The crew of the oil rig reported the sighting to V / Adm Sunthorn Khamkhlai, Commander of Naval Area 2, who on Thursday ordered that a drone be flown in for an aerial examination and that the Tor 113 patrol boat. be dispatched on site.
Thursday evening at 10 p.m., the ship was found by the patroller at the location reported by Chevron and naval officers boarded for an examination. The ship, about 80 meters long and with the name Fin Shul Yuen 2 painted on its sides, was considered a freighter.
Chinese characters were seen on some parts of the ship, but all the numbers had been scratched off. No crew was on board and there was no trace of documents, cargo, anchors or other equipment.
The ship was very old and appeared to have been intentionally abandoned.
The ship’s hull, where generators and other machinery were installed, was about 50 percent water filled, causing the ship to tip about 35 degrees to the side. Naval officers, using electricity from the patrol boat, pumped water to keep the boat from sinking.
When the waves got stronger, the pumping was halted for safety reasons and the Navy patroller ordered to leave the site.
On Saturday, a tugboat was dispatched to tow the vessel to the mouth of the Tapi River in the Muang district of Surat Thani. On Saturday evening, en route to shore, about 28 nautical miles from the Sichon district of Nakhon Si Thammarat, the ship sank to a depth of about 28 meters.
R / Adm Surasak stated that the HTMS Tapi had been assigned to the mooring where the vessel sank. The Nakhon Si Thammarat maritime office had issued a warning for fishing boats to beware when sailing in the area.
He said oil had escaped from the ship and formed slicks on the surface. The tablecloths would be cleaned up within days before they could cause any damage to the environment.
It would be decided later if the boat would be recovered after all the factors had been raised for review, said R / Adm Surasak.