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China Rescues 4, Recovers 12 Bodies in Search After Wind Ship Sinks

offshore wind engineering vessel sinks in China
Fu Jing 001 broke in two and sunk in a typhoon (Hong Kong GFS)

Published Jul 4, 2022 2:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

Chinese officials reported that the chances are growing slim for finding additional survivors from an engineering vessel that was supporting the offshore wind farms near Hong Kong when a typhoon ripped through the area on Saturday, July 2. In a press briefing late on July 4, the search and rescue coordinator said that four workers from the vessel had been rescued, but that 12 bodies have now been recovered and as many as 14 addition people remain unaccounted for while they are expanding the search area.

Details about the vessel that was lost are scarce with local reporters questioning why the vessel had not been recalled from the site as the storm approached. The Fu Jing 001 was possibly an older vessel converted to support the wind farms. Reports indicated it was 669 feet long and fitted with one or more cranes. It was operating near the offshore wind farms in Guangdong Province in southern China.

Officials said the vessel had moved to a safe anchorage to ride out the approaching storm but early on Saturday it dragged its anchors and then broke the anchor chains. Winds at the time were being clocked at approximately 69 miles per hour with waves of three to four meters. The anchorage was approximately 18 nautical miles offshore from Guangdong.

The storm intensified before hitting land late on Saturday. Officials are saying the anchorage was near the center of the storm as it approached land.

 

 

The initial distress signal was received at around 3:50 a.m. Saturday morning. It was daylight when the vessel broke into two pieces and began sinking. Rescue aircraft and patrol boats were dispatched and are being assisted by private fishing vessels. Crewmembers reportedly had been ordered into their lifejackets but survivors plucked from the deck on Saturday said that their colleagues were being washed overboard and were attempting to cling to the rails of the sinking ship.

Chinese officials reported that 38 ships were involved in the search efforts and they were also being assisted by the navy. Late on Saturday they announced that three people had been saved and today they added a fourth person saying he had been recovered by a navy ship. The Hong Kong Government Flying Service is leading the search efforts saying that it has dispatched its entire fleet of aircraft.

The search area has been widened to encompass approximately 700 square nautical miles. The bodies of the dead have been recovered up to 50 nm from the site where the vessel sunk in a position approximately 180 nm southwest of Hong Kong.

Search conditions at the site were being complicated by the high winds which officials said were making it difficult to estimate the flight times and fuel endurance for the helicopters. They also reported that the predominance of offshore wind turbines in the area was making it difficult for the helicopters and planes to get close to the surface during their search efforts.