Navy finds Malaysian tugboat which towed stranded freighter in Myanmar seas

Kyi Naing
A tugboat named “Independence” (Photo-Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services)


An Indonesian freighter “SAM RATULANGI” that was stranded in Myanmar seas near the mouth of Sittoung River, seven nautical miles outside Thamaseitta Village, Thongwa Township, Yangon Region, was found to be towed by a tugboat to which the navy has seized for further investigations, according to an announcement from Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services on August 31.

The vessel, which was stranded near the mouth of Sittaung River, was towed away on August 13 by a tugboat to a factory in Bangladesh where ships are disassembled and salvaged. When they arrived at south of the mouth of Yangon River on August 26, some of the cables from the tugboat were cut off due to bad weather. Consequently, the vessel was carried away by the current and was left behind at the scene because of difficulty with going further, it said.

The navy didn’t find any crew members onboard the vessel. When they made an initial check, they found equipments in connection with vessel control and sea navigation, old damaged engine and machinery that were tainted with sea water and engine oil and that were beyond repair and unused kitchen and dining room and lifeboats and life-rafts.

According to investigation, the cargo vessel is registered in Palau. In the front part of the ship, two cables were found. It was reviewed that the vessel might have been moved with the help of a tugboat, said the announcement.

After coastal monitoring radars of the Tatmadaw (Navy) showed that two suspicious-looking vessels were moving in the area between the mouths of Yangon River and Sittaung River on August 26 and 27, navy vessels conducted thorough searches in Myanmar’s waters.

As the navy found the suspicious tugboat under the name Independence about 50 miles from Myanmar’s coast heading towards the other country, they had to be taken for questioning.

After questioning, it is learnt that the owner of the tugboat carrying 13 Indonesian crew members is from Malaysia. Officials are conducting investigation for further details.