The UK Coastguard has called for the skippers of commercial and pleasure craft to keep a vessel’s registration details up to date following the sinking of a sailing yacht off the Indonesian coast.
The incident that prompted the plea occurred last Friday 22nd November. The Australian maritime authority (JRCC Australia) received a HF DCS Distress alert from what appeared to be the UK registered vessel, Asia. HM Coastguard in the UK, were duly informed and investigations commenced, searching relevant databases for the vessel’s contact details. None were found on the UK register. However, the UK Coastguard, which can monitor beacon alerts globally, had noticed that a US registered EPIRB, (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) had been activated in a similar area as the HF DSC Distress.
Making contact with the skipper’s wife, the HM Coastguard used the identification number of the beacon to confirm that it was the one carried onboard the distressed vessel, Asia. It was also confirmed that the yacht was registered in Malaysia and was on passage to Thailand with four people onboard, including two British citizens. Contact was then made with the Malaysian authorities to coordinate assistance to the stricken vessel.
The following morning, after extensive investigation work by the UK Coastguard, the skipper was contacted and confirmed that the vessel had sunk after hitting an object in the water. All four crew had got onboard the RHIB tender, discovered they were 55 nautical miles north of an Indonesian island and headed toward the nearest point of land. The crew are now safe and well and receiving assistance having been met by the Marine Police at Bima.
If the registry details of the vessel had been kept up to date it would have helped determine the location of the vessel and enabled a more rapid rescue response.
In this instance, no harm was done and HM Coastguard Controller David Jones, who coordinated the overnight investigation in the National Maritime Operations Centre, says: “We are relieved to hear that the crew are now safely ashore. This incident demonstrated good international working between the UK Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, JRCC Australia, JRCC Jakarta, USA Mission Control Centre and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
If any of a vessel’s registry details change, both the new country of registry and the old need to be informed. To seek advice, contact the UK Beacon Register via gov.uk/406beacon or email firstname.lastname@example.org.