EMERALD STAR disaster Full story: Oct 17 Update

EMERALD STAR disaster Oct 21 Update: SAR seems to be suspended
No news on EMERALD STAR missing crew search and rescue, no updates, nothing. It was said by Indian media citing officials, that Indian plane was dispatched to the area to join SAR, and this is it. AIS shows no CG or SAR ships in the area, which could be possibly deployed in SAR. Though there was no official statement on SAR suspension, it definitely looks like one.
Unless all involved in SAR parties obtained (but withhold) some information from survivors, which justifies SAR cancellation, it seems to be premature. Yes, those missing who maybe survived disaster in immersion suits or life jackets, can’t survive being in water for so many days. But some could make it to life raft or rafts, and that’s a different story – they can survive for weeks, being on a life raft.
Most recent and strikingly similar disaster occurred in South Atlantic Ocean on Mar 31 this year, giant ore carrier STELLAR DAISY capsized and sank in literally, minutes, with all but two crew lost. But SAR was going on for weeks, notwithstanding the remoteness of the area, by STELLAR vessels. Regional States called operation off, including most important in such SARs helicopters and planes. We don’t know so far, if there were disaster survivors in life rafts, but relatives of the crew insisted on SAR prolongation weeks, more than a month, after disaster. EMERALD STAR disaster site is much closer to land, which makes SAR, technically, easier.

EMERALD STAR disaster Oct 17 Update: SAR still on; survivors story
Philippine Coast Guard transferred 5 rescued crew from bulk carrier SM SAMARINDA at Casambalangan, Sta Ana, Cagayan, Northeastern Luzon, in the morning Oct 15.
PCG press-release says:
The rescued crew were immediately brought to Gerry Filippetto Memorial Foundation Hospital for further medical treatment due to multiple physical injuries and head trauma sustained from the incident.
The rescued Indian national were identified as follows: Chief Cook Kharty Kerthikeyan, 46 yrs old; Deck Fitter Dasari Prakash Rao, 37 years old; Chief Officer Kishore Kumar, 46 years old; Trainee Rama Durai Umadurai, 23 years old, and Trainee Joseph Pragash, 24 years old.
According to survivors testimonies, EMERALD STAR developed port side list prior to disaster, which couldn’t be put under control.
Comment: Not clear if PCG is deployed in, and continues, SAR. Japanese Coast Guard continues SAR according to AIS, patrol ship NAGURA is moving in the areas around EMERALD STAR sinking site, apparently following most possible drift tracks of missing sailors.

Oct 15 evening Update: I received a letter from a younger brother of EMERALD STAR Chief Engineer, who’s believed to be missing, containing very important pieces of information:
SAR is being conducted by MRCC Japan. As per the latest update 16 crew members have been already rescued from the accident and 10 crew member are reported still missing. Chief Engineer Shyam Singh is also one of them. We got the news that nearby boats and Rescue team of Japan and Philippines will search for one more day I.e. 16th October AM.
I hereby request you to consider below facts:
1. As per the information received from two survivors separately, Chief Engineer Shyam Singh Rajput made announcement on PA system and alerted all crew. They mustered on ship’s deck. So we have strong belief that all crew member were prepared for abandoning the Ship. It is pertinent to mention that missing crew member were reported to wearing life jacket because of which There are high chances of their survival after accident.
2. As per latest weather updates, weather condition and visibility is constantly improving from the day of accident.
Hence there are high chances of survival and recovery of missing persons.
Hence on behalf of all the family members of missing people we request all deployed in SAR parties, officials of Japan, Philippines, China and their respective MRCC, to continue the search operation for next 7 days.
What it means actually, is the fact, that 10 missing crew did have a very high chance of surviving the disaster itself, capsizing and sinking of the vessel. It implies, therefore, that some of them, or all of them, are still alive. SAR must go on, all concerned and affected must, I believe, use all connections and means at their disposal, to compel Indian authorities to request the continuation of SAR from involved States.
Voytenko Mikhail
October 15, 2017

Oct 15 Update: No news on the fate of 10 missing Indian crew, but the good news is, SAR is still on, with deployment of Japanese patrol ships and planes. There is still a chance, that some crew could make it either on a life raft, or in immersion suit. I’ll keep monitoring situation, immediately publishing any updates. All concerned are invited to share any extra information they have: [email protected]
My deepest condolences to all affected, but I believe, there’s still some hope left. In most such cases, share of missing crew was usually bigger, or all hands were lost. In EMERALD STAR case, 16 people out of 26 were able to survive sinking and evacuate, meaning that there was some time before vessel capsized. Some people could manage to evacuate, to be drawn away by sea and wind, and missed by rescuers.

Oct 14 morning: The latest report from the Japanese Coast Guard said 11 crew were successfully rescued by bulk carrier Densa Cobra (IMO 9460643), and 5 by bulk carrier SM Samarinda (IMO 9574391). Understood 10 people remain missing, search still under way.
EMERALD STAR sank in position 19 01N 124 46E, at around 2100 UTC Oct 12. Little doubt exists that liquefying was the main cause of capsizing. As in all such cases, one main question is to be answered – did Master of the ship know true moisture content of loaded nickel ore, and respectively, could he evaluate and appreciate stability risks. Master has a right to refuse loading or sailing, if he believes the cargo is dangerous.

Oct 13 evening Update: According to Japanese Coast Guard statements, there were 26 Indian crew on board, 15 were rescued by passing ships, 11 went missing, Japanese patrol boats and aircraft are deployed in SAR.

Oct 13 morning: Bulk carrier EMERALD STAR reported capsized and sank in the morning Oct 13, local time, east of Luzon Strait, Philippine sea, according to Chinese sources. All crew rescued, vessel was en route from Indonesia to China with cargo of nickel ore, liquefying thought to be the cause of capsizing. Last known position at 2000 ITC Oct 12 in 18 15N 124 50E. Information to be confirmed, details are awaited.
Bulk carrier EMERALD STAR, IMO 9449261, dwt 57367, built 2010, flag Hong Kong, manager Vridhi Maritime Pvt. Ltd. India, owner DUBAI BULKERS LTD.



My name is Mikhail Voytenko, I’m Russian, professional merchant marine navigator, by education and former experience. I own and run Maritime Bulletin website for more than 10 years. I've been involved in solving a number of piracy hijack cases, including the hijack of ro-ro FAINA, loaded with tanks. It was me who made public, and unravel, freighter ARCTIC SEA mystery. I've been also closely involved in a number of maritime disaster, one of them being MSC FLAMINIA major fire.