Hong Kong owners abandon ship

Troubled waters: A filepic of Xin Yi Yi lying on its side off Permatang Damar Laut, south of Penang island.

GEORGE TOWN: Raising a sunken ship is no easy matter as the state has learned from the incident with the Xin Yi Yi.

This Hong Kong vessel keeled over and has been lying on the seabed half-submerged for close to a year in the shallows off Permatang Damar Laut, south of Penang island.

Salvagers failed to float her while the owners have abandoned her and allowed their RM1.5mil bond to be forfeited by the state Marine Department.

A Marine Department corporate unit spokesman said the department would call for a salvaging tender in a few weeks.

“There is a process we must adhere to before salvage operations can resume and we want to restart it as soon as possible,” he said.

On July 26 last year, Xin Yi Yi’s captain Shek Shing Hei told police after being rescued that he could not see the light of the warning buoy on arriving at 5.30am and crashed his vessel into the remains of a shipwreck nicknamed “Kapal Simen”.

The captain and his crew were coming here to buy 30 tonnes of live fish such as groupers. They were rescued by passing fishermen after the accident.

The following month, the owners commissioned a team of salvagers, whose plan was to seal the lower decks, pump the water out and then use gigantic airbags to raise the ship off the seabed and tow it to deeper waters so that she could right herself.

But the 43.6m-long Xin Yi Yi would not budge.

Meanwhile, the state government is not happy with the delays and are worried that other small vessels would hit the vessel, especially at night.

State environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said since the owners abandoned the ship the Marine Department could get a court order to cut the ship up for scrap.

“It definitely poses a threat to other boats because not everybody would know there is a half-sunken ship sticking out of the water, especially at night.

“At least mark the area with a warning buoy.

“Whatever the decision, we hope the department makes it fast because it’s almost a year and leaving the wreck like that is dangerous,” said Phee.


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