With search operations on to trace the mariners of ill-fated tanker Sanchi, the US Navy joined the international mission on January 7 by deploying a P-8A aircraft attached to the ‘Fighting Tigers’ of Patrol Squadron EIGHT (VP-8).
However, the first day of search and rescue turned out to be disappointing. After combing an area of approximately 3,600 square nautical miles in the East China Sea following the collision between MV Sanchi and CF Crystal, the US Navy aircraft returned to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan without locating any of the 32 missing mariners.
The Panama-flagged oil tanker Sanchi caught on fire after colliding with the Hong Kong-flagged bulker on January 6 some 300km off Shanghai, in the mouth of Yangtze River.
The entire crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshi mariners are still unaccounted for. Based on the initial findings, the tanker has tilted on its port side and has spilled oil into the water. The tanker, owned by Bright Shipping Ltd and managed by National Iranian Tanker Co. (NITC), is loaded with 136,000 tons of Iranian crude oil.
CF Crystal did not sustain major damage in the collision and its 21 crew members have been rescued and are reported to be safe, according to China’s transport ministry.
The Chinese rescue teams deployed on eight vessels are said to be working around the clock to put out the fire, curb the pollution and find any potential survivors. The South Korean Marine Police Agency has joined the rescue efforts as well. However, it is understood that the rescue efforts are hampered by the fact that the vessel remains ablaze.
Sea News, January 8