The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) coordinated a multinational search operation from May 16-20 for the crew of the Chinese deep-sea fishing vessel, Lu Peng Yuan Yu 028. The search area was a remote part of the Indian Ocean, roughly 5,000km northwest of Perth, with extreme weather conditions caused by Tropical Cyclone Fabian. The search included seven merchant ships and one fishing vessel from six flag states, and involved the contributions of numerous search and rescue agencies.
Sadly, despite the efforts of the seafaring community, no survivors were found at the scene. However, the operation underscored the importance of merchant shipping in search and rescue at sea, as the seafaring community comes together to provide support and assistance during difficult and dangerous circumstances.
Several bulk carriers, including Taurus Ships (Panama) and Corona Zenith (Japan), provided invaluable assistance in the early stages of the search when conditions were still dangerous. In the next three days, four more bulk carriers, including Yuan Fuhai (Singapore), Ming De (Hong Kong), MSXT Athena (Marshall Islands), SDTR Belief (Marshall Islands), and Rapid Hangzhou (Liberia), provided vital assistance in locating life rafts and signs of life in the expanding search area. A sister ship to the capsized fishing vessel, Lu Peng Yuan Yu 018, also played a crucial role in the search for the missing crew.
AMSA expressed its gratitude to the captains and crews of the ships for their unwavering efforts and highlighted how the international search and rescue system at sea would not function effectively without the selfless support of merchant shipping. Mark Morrow, the Executive Director Response at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, penned the article, recognising the crucial role of merchant shipping in search and rescue at sea and the importance of the seafaring community coming together during critical times.
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