Indonesian authorities have located the missing bulk carrier Nur Allya – 843 metres beneath the ocean, in the eastern ‘spice islands’ of Maluku.
The 52,400-dwt vessel and its 25 crew members, disappeared in the Halmahera Sea near Buru island without word on 20 August. Oil was found in the vicinity some days later.
Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) commissioned help from the Centre for Maritime Geology Research and Development (P3Gl) to undertake the search.
Using the SeaSPY-2 marine magnetometer and pinger locator in the vicinity where the sinking was suspected to have taken place, the team was able to detect the wreck.
“We can’t say for sure why the vessel sank,” a BASARNAS spokesperson told Safety at Sea (SAS). “That’s not for BASARNAS to determine. Our job was to find it. There’s lots of speculation about what may have happened – some have even blamed terrorism. What everyone asks is how could a ship that big just sink. It was so quick. It went down at 4 am. Most of the crew would have been asleep. The time between the first ping and the last was so close.”
BASARNAS provided a vessel for the families of the crew on 3 October to take them above the ocean grave and join them in prayers for their lost ones. Despite an air and sea search at the time the bulk carrier went missing, there were no bodies found.
“We help take families to where the ship went down so they can offer prayers and scatter flowers when they have no bodies to bury,” he said. “We often do that.”
The giant cargo ship was built in 2002 at the Japan Sanoyas Hishino Meisho Corp. shipyards and was carrying cargo for PT. Gurita Lintas Samudera.
As SAS reported in September, the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo) has raised concerns that the sudden loss of the vessel may have been due to cargo liquefaction.
The Nur Allya was carrying a load of nickel ore on route to Central Sulawesi at the time it sank.
Intercargo concerns come on the back of an earlier report by marine insurer Skuld on the prevalence of Indonesian and Philippines nickel ore ships capsizing due to cargo liquefaction.