The Marie Celeste of the East China Sea? Fishing crew finds deserted ferry floating in middle of the sea

  • Abandoned vessel was discovered far from land – but there is probably a benign explanation for what happened
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2018, 4:12pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 9:29am

At first it seemed a mystery to rank alongside that of the Marie Celeste or other ghost ships. Earlier this month a Chinese fishing crew came across a completely deserted ferry floating in the East China Sea.

Wang Weiping, the skipper of the fishing boat that found the liner early on Thursday 300 nautical miles (555km) from land, said the ship’s exterior had some marks that suggested a collision but there were no signs of life.

“We got on the ship and yelled if there was anyone inside the ship, but nobody answered us,” Wang told the news portal Thepaper.cn.

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But when the crew climbed on board the interior was in good condition, with well-maintained fittings and equipment.

The crew contacted the Maritime Safety Administration in Zhejiang, the crew’s home province, in the hope of solving the mystery.

On Wednesday this week they finally got an answer – and luckily it appeared that there was a relatively benign explanation for what had happened.

The paper’s report said the authority had checked through “various channels” and concluded that the second-hand ship had been bought by a Malaysian shipping company from a firm in South Korea.

It had hired another firm to tow the ship to Malaysia, but the rope had snapped when the tugboat encountered heavy seas en route.

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The name of the Malaysian firm that bought the ship was not included in the report, but the authorities in Zhejiang said they had been in contact with their counterparts in Korea about the incident.

Based on advertising materials in the ship, Wang said the liner had probably been used on the route between the Korean port of Busan and Fukuoka in Japan.

Wang and his crew are now towing the cruise ship to the nearest port of Zhoushan – a journey they are expected to complete in the next three or four days.