Johor MMEA detains salvage ship
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s diving fraternity has commended the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) for its swift action in detaining a Chinese-registered ship, which fled from the Indonesian navy after it was allegedly caught illegally salvaging a shipwreck.
Local divers took an interest in the ship after reading a news report and recognising it as the same ship that was involved in the salvaging of three World War 2 Japanese shipwrecks in Sabah waters.
It was reported that on April 28, the vessel, Chuan Hong 68, a dredging ship, had illegally anchored in Johor waters after it fled from Indonesian authorities.
The MMEA found the ship 2.4 nautical miles southeast off Tanjung Sapa, Kota Tinggi.
Johor Tanjung Sedili district seventh maritime director Captain Amran Dau said the agency detained seven crew members.
He said the dredging ship was under close surveillance by MMEA.
“It is currently anchored in Pengarang waters. Prior to the arrest, Indonesian authorities sought assistance from MMEA to monitor the movements of the runaway vessel.
“Investigation under the Section 491B(1)(L) of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance (MSO) 1952 is underway.”
However, Amran was not aware of the vessel’s presence in Sabah waters earlier this year, nor did he receive any report regarding the ship’s activity in the state.
Local diver and marine activist Monica Chin gave a thumbs up to the Johor MMEA.
She said the vessel should have been detained by the relevant authority when it was in Sabah.
“I praise the Indonesian government for treasuring its underwater heritage by taking immediate action against the culprits responsible for looting underwater sites.
“I hope the Sabah government will review its decision on Chuan Hong 68 and quarters involved in the salvaging of the three shipwrecks in Usukan waters.”