Seven rescued as supply vessel sinks near Sabah

Mermaid Challenger (Photo: Mermaid Subsea Services)

Personnel on a Royal Malaysian Navy craft have successfully rescued all seven crewmembers of an offshore supply vessel that sank off the east coast of Sandakan in Sabah on Sunday, January 17.

At around 17:45 local time on Sunday, the captain of the Panamanian-flagged Mermaid Challenger sent out a distress call saying that his vessel had suffered a hull breach in the bow and was slowly slipping beneath the waves approximately 67 nautical miles off Sandakan.

The captain then ordered the crew to abandon ship after the navy responded that one of its own vessels has been despatched to the area to render assistance.

Upon arrival, navy personnel on the troop transport KD Sri Gaya found Mermaid Challenger‘s crew adrift in a life raft. All seven individuals were safely pulled out of the water without injury and were later brought to shore in Sandakan.

Navy officials said the rescue effort proved challenging due to the stormy weather and rough sea conditions.

Mermaid Challenger had just departed Sandakan and was sailing for the southern Philippines when the trouble began.

The navy added that this is the third vessel sinking to occur off Sabah’s east coast over a span of five days.

The first incident occurred on January 13 when a tug capsized and sank in the same area. Two of the five crew survived the sinking while one was found dead and the remaining two are still missing.

The second incident two days later involved a fishing vessel that capsized with four people still on board. Two of the crew were subsequently rescued while the other two are feared to have drowned.

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