Indonesia: Iron ore freighter hits reef near Batam

The Jakarta Post 6 Feb 16;

BATAM: A Hong Kong-flagged Iranian MV Ocean carrier, sailing from Iran, hit a coral reef off Sambu Island, Batam, Riau Islands, early on Wednesday.

The vessel, carrying a huge volume of iron ore, remains stranded as it awaits salvage.

The local port authority and the Indonesian Navy are monitoring the vessel’s condition in anticipation of ship fuel or cargo pollution.

Sambu Island Port Authority head Rudi Widjanarko told The Jakarta Post on Friday that the evacuation of the ship could take up to a week. However, the agent handling the ship evacuation has not begun work as yet.

“The evacuation needs a week. It has yet to commence. We dive in order to look for damage that could cause an oil or cargo spill. It is currently being inspected,” said Rudi.

According to Rudi, reports of the incident had reached Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan in Jakarta and he had ordered maximum handling to prevent potentially disastrous sea pollution.

“The ship, sailing from Iran to China, reached half way. The ship is laden with iron ore, not uranium. We have inspected the documents and data submitted to us,” said Rudi.

More maritime accidents as sea turns treacherous
Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post 6 Feb 16;

Maritime authorities have reported a rise in the number of accidents in Indonesian waters and have taken steps to mitigate the incidents.

On Wednesday, one cargo ship flying the flag of Hong Kong found itself stranded near the waters off Riau before being assisted by the Navy’s Western Fleet (Armabar) and towed to nearby Sambu Island.

The cargo ship, MV Ocean Carrier, was transporting iron ore and was headed to Yang Jian, China, from Fujairah, Iran.

Chief of Batam Naval Base Col. Eko Suyatno said that the cargo ship had found itself stranded after trying to avoid the busy traffic between Indonesia to Singapore.

“The cargo ship was stranded in the Batu Berhenti area,” Eko said.

The ship suffered no serious damage when two warships, the KRI Surik and the KRI Siwar, arrived to start the rescue effort.

The Malacca Strait is a busy maritime route for ships, cargo vessels and tankers, and collisions sometimes take place.

In December last year, a Danish-cargo ship, MT Thorco Cloud, sank off the coast of Batam after it collided with a tanker.

Based on data from the Maritime Security Board (Bakamla), in January 2016 alone, there were 29 maritime accidents, including eight sinking cases, five cases of stranded ships and three cases of
leaking ships.

The latest incident took place on Jan. 26 when a ship transporting 71 domestic tourists sank off Bokori Island, Southeast Sulawesi, after colliding with a rock and taking on water. No casualties were reported.

Two days after the incident, a fishing boat, the KM Hikmah Rizki, sank in the waters off east Aceh due to high seas. One fisherman was reported missing.

The causes of maritime accidents range from bad weather to overloaded and poorly maintained vessels.

It is often the case that boats capsize and sink because they are overcrowded.

Armabar said maritime accidents were mostly due to bad weather and overcapacity.

“However, we rarely see boats crash into one another because all ships have their own paths,”
Zainuddin said.

He said that the waters near the South China Sea could be quite treacherous, especially during the monsoon season.

“The areas near the South China Sea are quite dangerous with more than 2-meter high waves,”
he said.

Navy finds no toxic waste in HK tanker
Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post 10 Feb 16;

The Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) stated on Tuesday that it did not find toxic waste inside a cargo ship recently stranded near Riau Islands.

The Navy said scientists deployed by the government to test whether the load inside the tanker, the MV Ocean Carrier, was uranium waste, had declared it was not.

“We have checked the cargo and interrogated the crew members. We have also opened one of the ship’s hatches to check its content,” TNI AL spokesperson Commodore Muhammad Zainuddin said.

The ship’s hatch contained iron ore, in accordance with its manifest.

“Another sign is that the ship’s crew members were not wearing special radioactive waste-handling attire,” Zainuddin said.

The cargo ship, flying the flag of Hong Kong, last week found itself stranded in waters near Riau before being assisted by the Navy’s Western Fleet (Armabar) and towed to nearby Sambu Island.

According to the ship manifest, the MV Ocean Carrier was transporting iron ore and was headed to Yang Jian, China, from Fujairah, Iran.

The cargo ship got stranded after trying to avoid the busy traffic between Indonesia and Singapore. Riau’s waters are part of Malacca Strait, a busy maritime route for ships, cargo vessels and tankers.

The MV Ocean Carrier suffered no serious damage when two warships, the KRI Surik and the KRI Siwar, arrived to start the rescue effort. It was reported that 22 crew members were onboard during the incident, and no casualties were reported.

However, information leaked to the public suggested that the ship was transporting uranium waste from Iran when it got stranded.

Head of the maritime security office for the western maritime zone Comr. Agung said that the cargo was now at Sambu Island port for further investigation.

“We confirmed that the information was not true. We have checked and found no uranium material, [...] only iron ore,” Agung said.

He also said that the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten), the sea security agency (bakamla) and related institutions had worked hand in hand on the investigation so far.

Agung asserted that if the cargo had been or contained uranium waste, it would have meant a serious problem in the area.

“[Uranium waste] is very dangerous for the security and safety of the waters of Riau Islands,” Agung added.

In December, Iran sent its first shipment of low-enriched uranium material to Russia, a key step in Tehran’s implementation of an historic nuclear accord with world powers.

According to ISNA news agency, Iran sent 8.5 tons of low-enriched nuclear material to Russia and received about 140 tons of natural uranium in return.

Another cargo ship, identified as Red Rock, was caught in West Nusa Tenggara waters last month, suspected of carrying toxic waste from a mining company operating in Sumbawa Island.

There has yet to be any confirmation of those allegations.

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