SANDAKAN: A cargo ship capsized and sank in the waters of the Segama Reefs here yesterday but swift action by the captain in contacting the authorities for help led to the rescue of all seven crew members.
In the incident at about 2pm, Bill Odong, 50, the captain of the Mermaid Challenger cargo ship, said he contacted the authorities via a radio call after realising water had entered the ship which was carrying four containers.
“After receiving a response from the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), I instructed my six crew members to lower the safety raft and board it.
“At that point, the cargo vessel was beginning to sink and I did not want to risk the lives of my crew,” he told reporters when met at RMN Naval Region 2 (Mawilla 2) after being rescued by KD Sri Gaya patrol boat here today.
Meanwhile, a ship crew member, Norhamri Abdul Satar, 61, said the cargo ship began its journey at midnight on Sunday in good weather from Sandakan towards the Malaysia-Philippine border to unload the containers on a Philippine-based boat.
However, he said water began to enter the cargo vessel, believed to be from a leak in the bow of the ship.
“Water was entering the vessel fast, resulting in the ship captain contacting the authorities. The sea was also rough,” he added.
Mawilla 2 Commander Rear Admiral Rusli Ahmad said KD Sri Gaya which was patrolling in the area immediately responded to the ship’s emergency call.
“KD Sri Gaya ship arrived at the location at 6.40pm and rescued all seven crewmen including the captain, aged between 18 and 61 who were on the safety raft.
“The rescue operation was carried out quickly taking into account strong winds, rough sea and the weather was getting dark,” he said.
According to Rusli, this was the third boat to have capsized around the Segama Reef waters within a week, after an incident involving a tug boat on Jan 13 at the Kuala Kinabatangan Besar and a fishing trawler on Jan 15 at Kuala Meruap.