Dhat was an unusual discovery for the workers on an oil rig: near their workplace in the Gulf of Thailand, an unmanned freighter was adrift in the sea. The workers notified authorities in Songkhla town. According to the Bangkok Post, the navy initially approached the ship with a drone. In pictures of the Navy, the name of the ship can be seen in Chinese characters on the rusty hull: “Jin Shui Yuan 2”.
Soldiers entered the 80 meter long ship to examine it more closely. A video released by the Navy shows them roaming the empty corridors in the dark, guns in hand. A second sequence of the video finally shows the ship during the day. Buckets, rags, empty cigarette packs, a tube of toothpaste and a toilet paper roll are lying around. A sign with Chinese characters hangs on a wall.
According to the Bangkok Post, the Navy found no papers that could provide information about former crew members or an owner of the ship. Anchors and nautical equipment are said to be badly damaged. The engine room was under water. The ship was probably left behind because of its desolate condition.
A trail leads to Hong Kong
When the authorities wanted to tow the Jin Shui Yuan 2 to a port a few days after its discovery, a storm blew up. During the maneuver, more water entered the ship and it sank in the sea. Fishermen have been warned not to approach the scene of the accident as the wreck is leaking oil, Thai media reports. The authorities are now checking whether they can still salvage the ship.
The origin of the Jin Shui Yuan 2 is unclear. There is only one ship with this name in the database of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of the United Nations. Likewise on the Equasis platform, which bundles data on shipping companies and ships and is managed by the EU and the French Navy. Both list a cargo ship named Jin Shui Yuan 2, built in 2008, which is said to have sailed under the Chinese flag.
The ship is said to have been acquired in April 2020 by a Hong Kong trading company based in the Kowloon district. The company was officially registered just a few days earlier, on March 24, 2020, according to the China Special Administrative Region Company Register. The company cannot be found on the internet. There is no information in the databases about the previous owner. In May 2020 the ship was renamed. The new owner christened it Shengshun Hao. It has been under the flag of Cameroon since July.
Authorities suspect illegal activities
Ship trackers also point to a Jin Shui Yuan 2 sailing in Asia. However, she has a different IMO identification number, so it must be a second ship. Every cargo ship has such a seven-digit number, which is retained even if the name is changed or the ship is sold. However, it cannot be found in the databases of the IMO and the EU. According to the tracking websites, it was last seen under the name in November 2020. After that, this ship is said to have been renamed.
Investigations into the origin continue. The authorities are also investigating a possible connection with illegal activities and may want to ask other countries for administrative assistance. Ships trying to smuggle goods by sea to other countries under false names have often been arrested in the region. What cargo the Jin Shui Yuan 2 had loaded, who once steered it – its secret has taken it into the depths.
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