17 Rescued From Sinking Bulker in Sea of Japan

Houei crystal bulker
File image courtesy Houei Transport

Published Dec 2, 2021 4:43 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Japan Coast Guard and the South Korean Coast Guard have rescued 17 seafarers from a sinking bulker off the coast of Shimane Prefecture, Japan.

The crew of the Vietnamese bulker Houei Crystal sent a distress signal on Wednesday afternoon at about 0830 hours and reported that a crewmember had been washed overboard by a wave. At 1630 hours, they called again to report that the vessel was in distress in heavy weather, Japan's 8th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters told media. 

 The vessel was under way from Nakhodka to Kinuura with a load of coal, and it was located about 200 nm to the northwest of the Oki Islands. All remaining 17 crewmembers safely abandoned ship in a lifeboat, and shortly after, the Houei Crystal sank. 

According to the Vladivostok Marine Rescue Coordination Center, a Russian good samaritan vessel - the bulker Region 87 - was near the scene and attempted to rescue the crew. The effort was not successful because of heavy seas, so Region 87 stood by to await the arrival of a South Korean patrol vessel. 

A South Korean Coast Guard cutter arrived in the early hours of Thursday morning and took all 17 survivors safely aboard. Four of the crewmembers sustained minor injuries, none life-threatening. All were brought safely ashore at Donghae on Thursday and were provided with a medical evaluation. 

A search for the final missing crewmember is still under way.