Taiwan Rescues Crew and Works to Contain Oil Leak from Grounded Cargo Ship

grounded cargo ship
Taiwan works to contain an oil spill from a grounded cargo ship (photo courtesy of Ocean Affairs Council)

Published Dec 18, 2023 7:21 PM by The Maritime Executive


Taiwan rescued nine crewmembers from a small general cargo ship that was driven up on shore after losing power during a strong storm. While the crewmembers from Myanmar are safely on shore, the Taiwan Coast Guard and Ocean Conservation Administration are now working to contain a spreading oil spill.

The 31-year-old vessel, which is reported to be owned by a company in Cambodia, has a spotty record showing no less than eight safety violations in its last port state inspection conducted in 2019. At the time, the vessel named Wan Xing was owned by a Chinese company, but it appears to have passed to new ownership this year and was reflagged in Cameroon.

Now named Hai Shou, the vessel which is just 197 feet (60 meters) in length and 651 dwt, departed the Taiwanese port of Taichung on Saturday, but shortly after leaving reported it had lost power. The vessel had been heading to the port of Kaohsiung or possibly planning to continue to Busan, South Korea. There is no cargo aboard.

The Coast Guard attempted to help the vessel to anchor but reported due to strong winds and high seas the vessel was continuing to drift. On Sunday, as it was coming close to the coast, the captain ordered the crew to abandon ship. Taiwan’s National Airborne Service Corps. assisted. They hoisted the six crewmembers from the deck into a helicopter and brought them to shore. 

The vessel continued to drift finally being driven ashore on Jibei Island, a small offshore island on Taiwan’s west coast. The vessel was reported to be approximately four-tenths of a nautical mile offshore and leaking 20 tons of diesel fuel. Attempts to put an oil containment boom around the vessel were unsuccessful because of the rough seas and high winds.

The Ocean Conservation Administration is working to contain the spill which has already covered 300 meters of the shoreline. They are placing booms and using absorbing rags to clean up the oil from the coastal reef.