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Typhoon Mangkhut

PLA navy vessel lifted off rocks and shipped back to mainland China after running aground in Hong Kong during Typhoon Mangkhut

Personnel transport ship Nan Jiao 86 had been stuck on shore of uninhabited islet Kau Yi Chau after breaking its anchor chain

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 3:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 9:47pm

A People’s Liberation Army military vessel driven ashore in Hong Kong eight days ago by Typhoon Mangkhut, the most intense storm on record in the city, was shipped back to mainland China for repairs on Monday.

Sailors from the PLA Hong Kong Garrison had been guarding the Nan Jiao 86, a 42-metre (138-foot) PLA navy personnel transport ship, since it got stuck on the rocky shore of Kau Yi Chau – an uninhabited islet 3km west of Hong Kong Island – on September 16.

It was understood a tug boat and a barge used for the salvage operation arrived in the city from the mainland over the weekend.

A government source said a powerful crane on the tug boat had been used to lift the stranded vessel off the rocks. It was then lifted onto the barge.

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He said the vessels stayed in the waters off the island overnight before leaving for Guangdong province on Monday.

At about 6am on Monday, the Nan Jiao 86 was placed on the deck of the barge, and then the vessels left for the city’s immigration clearance centre to the west of Tuen Mun.

“After immigration clearance work, the vessels left Hong Kong waters, heading towards Zhuhai for repairs,” the source said.

The Nan Jiao 86, carrying at least eight PLA officers, ran aground about two hours after the city’s highest typhoon signal, No 10, was issued. The ship’s anchor chain broke. The big waves and the strong current washed the boat ashore. No one was injured.

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The PLA sought help from the Hong Kong Marine Department’s vessel traffic centre soon after noon. The centre then alerted police. Because of the adverse weather, no police were sent.

The Post observed some soldiers had been stationed on the rocky beach on the eastern part of the islet last week. Visible damage was seen on the starboard, or right, side of the vessel. Part of a cabin wall had been ripped open.

The officers did not respond to questions about a salvage operation, only asking the Post to “keep a safe distance”, although they did not prohibit photo-taking.

The Nan Jiao 86 used to berth at a base on Stonecutters Island, but it was anchored off Kau Yi Chau before the monster storm arrived.

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The typhoon was the most powerful to hit Hong Kong since records began in 1946 and at its height packed sustained winds of up to 250km/h, according to the Observatory. At its closest, Mangkhut was within 100km of the city, on Sunday afternoon.

A Security Bureau spokesman on Wednesday night said it had received notice from the garrison about the “landing” of a military vessel at Kau Yi Chau to “take shelter” on Sunday when Mangkhut was lashing the city. The bureau said it had learned the garrison was arranging for its removal.

Kau Yi Chau is an uninhabited, isolated islet west of Victoria Harbour, between Peng Chau and Green Island.