A Coast Guard Administration (CGA) vessel began towing a Taiwanese deep-sea fishing boat, from which the skipper and chief engineer have been reported missing, at 8am yesterday.
The Te Hung Hsing No. 368, which was 4,870 nautical miles (9,010km) away from Nanfangao Fishing Harbor when the rescue operation started, is expected to return to Taiwan after Aug. 20, CGA officials said.
The towing speed is very slow because the fishing boat’s main engine and steering engine were damaged by crewmembers, the officials said. The CGA intends to send another coastguard vessel carrying components to repair the boat as a backup measure, the officials added.
The CGA vessel caught up with the Te Hung Hsing No. 368 in the early hours of Saturday, nearly two weeks after its owner lost contact with the boat.
The Suao, Yilan County-based boat was 623 nautical miles southwest of the Republic of Kiribati when it was found by the CGA patrol ship. On boarding the vessel, Coast Guard personnel found no signs of the boat’s skipper, Chen Te-sheng (陳德昇), or chief engineer, Ho Chang-lin (何昌琳), the only two Taiwanese on the roster, according to media reports.
None of the nine Indonesian crew aboard the ship could explain what had happened to the skipper and chief engineer, the reports said.
The Indonesian government expressed regret on Saturday over the disappearance of the two men.