Malaysian-registered cruise ship encounters oil leakage due to engine problems
LANGKAWI – A Malaysian-registered cruise ship, Reef Explorer, sank off Pulau Tuba on Wednesday, making this the second time a vessel has sunk near the waters of Langkawi within the past three months.
The incident is believed to have been caused by engine problems following an oil leak in the vessel, which was built in 1979 and measures 50m.
Malaysian Nature Society vice-president Eric R. Sinnaya has urged the Environment Department to probe for possible pollution.
He voiced his concern over the frequent sinking of vessels off the island as it may cause damage to the ecology.
The Marine Department in a statementyesterday said it has received information that the Klang-registered vessel has sunk, but all its crew members are safe.
It said the crew members left the vessel – anchored off Tuba – to buy basic necessities at the main island resort of Langkawi.
“The incident took place when the ship’s crew went ashore to buy essential goods, and, upon their return, found that the ship was damaged and sinking.
“However, no casualties were reported in the incident.”
According to the department, it is estimated that some 100l of oil has spilled out.
It said based on preliminary information the ship’s owner has conducted works to control the spill by placing dispersers over the oil slick.
According to oilspillprevention.org, dispersers are chemical agents (similar to soaps and detergents) that help break up an oil slick into small droplets, which dilute throughout the water.
The department said the owner has succeeded in breaking up much of the oil, believed to be from the ship’s engine and bilge.
The tide and wind in that area are currently in the direction of the sea, it added.
It has also directed the owner to place floating signal lights at the site of the incident to caution other vessels to avoid passing over the spot, adding that an investigation team has been set up to ascertain the cause of the incident.
Langkawi has the highest number of recreational marine crafts plying its shores from super yachts to recreational boats and research vessels.
In the past three months, the Epic Princess cruise ship has also sunk in the waters off Langkawi, while the Phocea yacht caught fire.