Anchorage, Alaska: A private commercial ship rushed to help 28 crew members aboard a crippled freighter being tossed by 20-30ft waves in the stormy North Pacific on Monday.
The India-flagged APJ Suryavir, a 740ft bulk cargo ship, was adrift about 870km south-west of Alaska’s Adak Island, where winds reached 80kmph.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeff Roberto said the “good Samaritan” Maersk Altair was expected to arrive around 11.30am PST, to help with repairs and rescue the Suryavir’s 28 crew members if necessary.
“They had to reduce their speed because of the weather,” Roberto said of the Altair, which had been expected to arrive earlier on Monday.
A coast guard C-130 overflew the stranded ship late Sunday and dropped a buoy to collect information on the currents and wind conditions.
Roberto said the stranded ship appeared to be withstanding the stormy weather. He said the coast guard plane was going to make another flight to the Suryavir on Monday morning to more closely monitor the vessel.
“We’ve been in constant contact with the ship” via radio, Roberto said. No one aboard is injured and the craft is not taking on any water. The freighter has also been in contact with its company, and except for their experience in the heavy seas, everyone on board was fine, Roberto said.
The Suryavir isn’t carrying any cargo and that makes it more unstable in heavy seas. But the coast guard said it has put sea water in its tanks to add some weight.
The Suryavir ran into engine problems several days ago en route from China to the Columbia River in Oregon, but the crew radioed for help late on Sunday morning only when the weather turned bad. The coast guard said it’s not unusual for ship crews to fix their engines in calmer weather.
The vessel’s registered owner is Apeejay Shipping Ltd. Company representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. Officials said the firm was working on sending a commercial tug to retrieve the drifting ship and a coast guard cutter was expected to arrive on Tuesday to monitor the situation.