Mystery behind ‘ghost ship’ found drifting at sea is revealed

Officials in Myanmar believe they have found the answer behind a ‘ghost ship’ found mysteriously drifting at sea last week.

The freighter, called Sam Ratulangi PB 1600, was discovered by fishermen off Myanmar’s commercial capital of Yangon.

The navy in Myanmar say the huge container ship was being towed by a tugboat to a ship-breaking factory in Bangladesh but the crew abandoned the ship when they were caught up in bad weather.

Authorities and navy personnel had boarded the Sam Ratulangi PB 1600 on Thursday to search for clues after it ran aground on a beach.

Police and observers were baffled at how such a large ship, with no sailors or goods on board, had ended up in Myanmar.

The vessel, which was built in 2001, measures more than 580ft long, according to the Marine Traffic website.

The location it was last recorded on the website was off the coast of Taiwan in 2009 and its discovery is the first reported instance of an abandoned ship appearing in Myanmar’s waters, according to the AFP news agency.

On Saturday, Myanmar’s navy said it suspected the ship had been towed by another ship after "two cables… were found at its head".

They later found a tugboat, called Independence, about 50 miles off Myanmar’s coast.

After questioning the 13 Indonesian crew members on board, they learned that the tugboat had been towing the vessel since 13 August, and intended to take it to a factory in Bangladesh that would dismantle and salvage the ship.

However, some of the cables attached to the boat broke in bad weather, and they decided to abandon the ship.

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The authorities are investigating further.

The owner of the tugboat is thought to be from Malaysia, news site Eleven Myanmar reports.

Bangladesh has a large ship-breaking industry – with hundreds dismantled in Chittagong every year.

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