India-flagged cargo ship adrift in North Pacific; 28 crew safe (Lead)December 21st, 2009 - 8:02 pm ICT by IANS
By Arun Kumar
Washington, Dec 21 (IANS) US coast guard has mounted emergency efforts to rescue 28 crew members of an India-flagged 740-foot bulk cargo ship, APJ Suryavir, as it drifted about 865 km southwest of Alaska’s Adak Island Monday.
A Coast Guard C-130 overflew the crippled cargo freighter as 20-30 foot waves and winds reaching as high as 50 mph tossed it about in the stormy North Pacific, officials said.
The 28-member crew of the Indian ship were safe and preparing to abandon ship once another vessel churning toward them arrives.
“We’ve been in constant contact with the ship” via radio, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeff Roberto. “No one aboard is injured and the craft is not taking on any water.”
The private commercial freighter, the Maersk Altair, heading toward the stricken vessel was expected to arrive there before noon PST (1:30 a.m. IST Tuesday). The ship which had been expected to arrive much earlier Monday ” had to reduce their speed because of the weather,” Roberto said.
Added to its problems, the Suryavir isn’t carrying any cargo and that makes it more unstable in heavy seas. But the Coast Guard said it has put sea water in its tanks to add some weight.
The Suryavir ran into engine problems several days ago en route from China to the Columbia River in Oregon, but the crew radioed for help late Sunday morning only when the weather turned bad. The Coast Guard said it’s not unusual for ship crews to fix their engines in calmer weather.
The C-130 overflew the ship late Sunday and dropped a buoy to collect information on the currents and wind conditions. The ship appeared to be withstanding the stormy weather, Roberto said.
The plane landed at Adak Island and was going to make another flight to the Suryavir at first light Monday to more closely monitor the vessel, he said. The forecast calls for stormy weather at least for the next day.
Officials said the vessel’s registered owner, Apeejay Shipping Ltd, was working on sending a commercial tug to retrieve the drifting ship and a Coast Guard cutter was expected to arrive on site Tuesday evening to monitor the situation.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)
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Tags: adak island, arun kumar, bulk cargo, c 130, cargo freighter, cargo ship, coast guard c, columbia river, constant contact, emergency efforts, foot waves, heavy seas, indian ship, member crew, pacific officials, petty officer, ship crews, stormy weather, us coast guard, wind conditions