Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sunken Ship Danger To Vessels

What can a sunken ship do? Fishermen here give similar answers — it will sink other vessels. They have reason for their fears, as many of them have had their boats damaged or even sunk after hitting a wreck near Pantai Balok here. A cargo ship laden with iron ore sank about three nautical miles from Pantai Balok after hitting a coral reef in 1977. The latest to fall victim to the wreck was skipper Abdul Aziz Ibrahim. The 52-year-old fisherman and his three crew members almost drowned when their boat sank around 2.30am on Tuesday on their way back to the Tanjung Api jetty. "We didn’t see the warning buoy as the indicator light was not functioning at that time," Aziz said at the Tanjung Api jetty here today. He claimed that the light had not been functioning for almost a week, making it difficult for fishermen to locate the site of the wreck.
He said it took only about two minutes for his vessel to sink when its bottom was ripped open after grazing the wreck. "I could not save anything as my main concern was the safety of my crew, including my son and son-in- law." Aziz and the others used a fish box to stay afloat for six hours before being rescued by another fishing boat. He claimed that during that time about six trawlers passed by the area but did not stop to help. "Maybe they did not see us in the darkness," said the father of 10 children. Now jobless, Aziz said he needed about RM30,000 to salvage his boat and replace the equipment, which include a global positioning system and echo sonar machine. Fisherman Jusoh Abdullah, 51, said the authorities should put two buoys and lights to show the location of the ship wreckage. "Hopefully one of the lights will function." He suggested that one of the lights be placed at the bow of the sunken 100 metre-long vessel and the other at its stern. For 50-year-old Kamarulzaman Sirat, the best solution would be to remove the wreck or destroy it with explosives. "If it remains there, then more boats will hit it and lives will be at risk," he said. He claimed that more than a dozen boats had been damaged from hitting the wreck.

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