The Taiwan Coast Guard administration has been called in to rescue the crew of a general cargo ship that ran aground in the Taiwan Strait on October 17 during the last typhoon to hit the region. High winds complicated the rescue operation, but the 14 crew members were successfully evacuated by helicopter.
The crew of the 5,500 dwt freighter Fortune (registered in Panama) issued a distress call on Sunday morning that the vessel had lost power and was drifting in the storm. The weather conditions have been reported to be poor with heavy rain, storm force winds between 35 and 45 mph gusting to around 60 mph. The sea sank about 20 feet.
The freighter had departed from Fuzhou, China, heading east into the Taiwan Strait.
The crew had attempted to anchor the 328-foot-long vessel in its position west of Taiwan. The crew told the Coast Guard the ship drifted about seven nautical miles dragging its anchors before coming to rest on the rocky shore of Jibel (Bird) Island mid-afternoon on October 17. .
Three patrol boats were dispatched but reported that the sea conditions were too difficult to reach the ship and carry out a rescue. Initially, a fixed-wing aircraft was scouted but was also forced to turn around.
Coastguard helicopters were finally able to reach the ship and transported the 14 crew members in two batches to shore. They were taken to a local airport and later to a hospital for COVID-19 testing.
The Coast Guard continues to monitor the Fortune for possible damage or oil leaks. A plan for the refloating of the vessel will be prepared after the calm of the sea.
Courtesy of the Taiwan Coast Guard