Two seafarers are presumed drowned after an Indonesian container ship sank in the Java Sea on 2 September.
Meratus Banjar 2, a 7,761 dwt vessel owned and operated by Indonesia’s Meratus Line, reportedly took water in its engine room at about 10.00 en route from Surabaya to Makassar, South Sulawesi.
The Indonesian Navy dispatched KRI Oswald Siahaan and KRI Pulau Rimau to assist in the search-and-rescue operation but two ships engineers, including a cadet, are believed to have been trapped in the engine room.
Navy rescue vessels and divers were unable to reach the vessel as it sank at a depth of 82 m.
No other casualties have been reported and 20 crew were evacuated to sister vessel Meratus Spirit 1.
Ships have been alerted to the danger of floating containers near the scene of the disaster, although no pollution or hazardous cargo have been reported.
Mobile phone photos of the ship as it went down have been published in the Indonesian press.
The loss of Meratus Banjar 2 is one of several recent maritime incidents in the region, according to coastguard data.
On 26 August, the Indonesian coastguard rescued 169 passengers from the MV Nusantara Kandas ferry near Tanjung Pinang, while one crew died on the same day when another vessel caught on fire off East Java.
Sonny Pattiselanno, secretary of the Indonesian Seafarers’ Union, told IHS Maritime that shipowners often breach regulations on crew and ship safety.
“What’s more, the harbour master doesn’t always undertake comprehensive ship safety inspections,” he said.
“And when there is a ship disaster, all too often it is the crew who are the victims and blamed – even criminalised.”
Legal enforcement of ship safety is still poor and open to abuse, he added.
“Until now there has been no progress towards Indonesia ratifying the MLC [Maritime Labour Convention protecting seafarers’ welfare],” said Pattiselanno.
Meanwhile, a joint Malaysian and Indonesian search-and-rescue operation is under way for 100 Indonesian workers missing at sea after a ferry capsized and sank in heavy swell off Sabak Berenam, Selangor, Malaysia, on 4 September.
To date 24 bodies had been recovered and 20 workers rescued, according to Merdeka Daily News.
The vessel was reported to have been overloaded.
Indonesian disaster centre statistics for 2013 listed 141 shipping sinkings, 47 ship fires, and 32 ship collisions among 450 maritime disasters for the year.