A ghost ship bearing the name Sam Ratulangi PB 1600 ran aground in Myanmar Thursday. Myanmar Times reports that residents of the village of Thama Seitta in the Thongwa township on the southern coast of the Southeast Asian country had actually spotted the cargo ship drifting not far offshore a few days earlier, and authorities including the coast guard, navy, and police began investigating right away. On Thursday, a sandbar brought it to a stop, and investigators confirmed that no passengers were aboard the mysterious vessel. Regional Parliament MP for Thongwa U Ne Win Yangon expressed concerns in the area.
“No crew or cargo was found on the ship. It was quite puzzling how such a big ship turned up in our waters. The authorities are keeping a watch on it.”
U Aung Kyaw Linn, General Secretary of the Independent Federation of Myanmar Seafarers was intrigued but not frightened by the presence of the “ghost ship,” saying, “In my opinion, the ship was recently abandoned. There must be a reason (why it was abandoned).” An Indonesian flag was aboard the ship, allowing a starting point for investigators who have finally solved the mystery. The Myanmar navy announced their findings on Saturday.
Two cables at the head of the ship gave investigators the first hint at the story behind the mysterious ship. The vessel began its voyage being tugged to Bangladesh according to The Independent. It had reached the end of its working life and was to be broken up upon arrival at the port of Chittagong in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, midway through its voyage, the vessel encountered weather conditions that severed its connection to the watercraft towing it and forced its crew to abandon it. Investigators learned this story when they located the ship that had been tugging it. The name of the ship is Independence, and the crew aboard reported that the container ship had been missing since August 13.
BBC reports that this is the first report of an abandoned ship appearing in the waters of Myanmar. Mystery ships have become a more common find in the waters of Asia in recent years, however, with several seen off the shores of Japan. Investigation of these ships often finds nothing at all on them but in some cases has turned up corpses. Some end up carrying North Korean crewmembers who are still living. Most of these, however, have been smaller fishing vessels, not large container ships like the Sam Ratulangi PB 1600.