Chief engineer missing from ship off Penang

Mariwit. Credit: Schwarz, Malte

The Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said that it has been searching for a chief engineer who went missing from a general cargo ship off Penang, Malaysia, on 24 November 2019.

The disappearance of 49-year-old Jin Yinglai, a Chinese national who was the chief engineer of Mariwit, a 2009-built 12,190 dwt vessel, was publicised when MMEA appealed for information in the local media on 26 November.

The MMEA said that Jin was last seen by fellow crew members in the engine room of Mariwit just before evening on 24 November. At the time, Mariwit was 3.7 n miles (6.8 km) northwest of Penang.

However, Jin was nowhere to be found and was not reachable from about 17:30h local time on 24 November. By then, Mariwit was 40 n miles north of Pulau Ketam, Selangor.

Mohammad Zawawi, MMEA’s chief of search and rescue, said that the agency received a distress call from Mariwit, and began looking for Jin at about 23:00h on 24 November.

He said, “The Maritime Rescue Command Center directed the maritime rescue sub-centre in Langkawi to co-ordinate search and rescue operations in Penang and Perak waters, while the sub-centre in Johor conducted searches in Selangor waters.”

MMEA deployed a helicopter, one patrol vessel, and two speedboats to the operation, while the coastguard unit in Batu Uban, Penang, and the Malaysia Royal Navy each sent a speedboat to help.

Zawawi said that the search and rescue operations span 679 n miles from Penang to Selangor, adding that MMEA is sending signals to ships in the area to provide any clues that could help to locate Jin.

He said, “At this stage, we haven’t found any sign of the missing person and we will continue with the search and rescue operations.”

IHS Markit’s AISLive data shows that Mariwit had sailed from Singapore’s Jurong Terminal on 22 November. The ship is owned by Mega Star Shipping, a Marshall Islands-incorporated entity.

Notwithstanding Jin’s disappearance, Mariwit continued on its voyage and arrived in Kemaman, Malaysia, on 26 November.

Safety at Sea contacted Dalian Everglory International, the technical manager for Mariwit, and was informed that Jin’s family has been notified of his disappearance. A manager at the company said, “The matter is now in the Malaysian authorities’ hands and there is nothing more we can say.”