'Ghost ship' mystery solved: Giant empty cargo drifting for nine years

ghost ship mystery

The mystery surrounding a giant ‘ghost ship’ that went missing for nine years - before it was found drifting empty near Myanmar - has finally been solved.

The rusty container vessel, Sam Ratulangi PB 1600, was found by fishermen in the Gulf of Martaban, off the coats of the southeast Asian state’s largest city, Yangon.

Myanmar Navy investigators were called in to check out why it had suddenly materialised.

After boarding the vessel they found no crew members or goods on board, after an initial inspection.

Further checks revealed that the 177-metre long boat had been pulled along by a tugboat towards a ship-breaking factory in Bangladesh.

But the crew was reportedly forced to cut cables with the ship, which had a dead weight 26,500 tonnes, after being caught up in bad weather.

They then decided to abandon it.

This all came to light after investigators questioned 13 crew members from the tugboat called the Independence.

The ship’s previous reported location had been off the coast on Taiwan in 2009.

Muhammad Iqbal, director at the Indonesian Department of Citizen's Protection, said: "It has nothing to do with the Government … it was towed to Bangladesh for scraps by a tug boat with a Singaporean flag.”

Myanmar's Navy confirmed that the Independence had got caught in bad weather south of the Yangon River.

"The cables attached to the ship broke, and the ship was floating along with the tide and it was difficult to continue its journey," a spokesperson said.

The state's Department of Marine Administration had also reportedly been involved in efforts to get to the bottom of the mystery over what had happened to the boat.

The Sam Rataulangi was built in 2001, according to the Marine Traffic website, which lists movements of ships around the globe.

There have been many cases of mysterious ships suddenly appearing on the high seas.

It was reported for example in January that 104 ghost ships, many containing dead mariners who had fled North Korea, had washed up on Japan's shores in the previous year.

Source: express.co.uk