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Feb-24-2011 17:34printcomments

Ghost Ship on Indian Ocean Found

Ghost-ship MV Esperznza recovered by Seychelles government.

 USS Sterett and motor tanker Esperanza
The guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) renders aid to the motor tanker Esperanza. Esperanza has been adrift at sea for 17 days after suffering an engineering casualty. (U.S. Navy photo by Fire Controlman First Class Stephen J. Zeller)

(KENYA (ECOP-MARINE)) - Though CDR McPherson, Commanding Officer, USS Sterett celebrated himself on facebook for having taken the crew off the M/V Esperanza already in December 2010 - after not having been able to repair the engine properly.

However he didn't mention what the government of the Seychelles had to say today in an official statement:

"The MT Esperanza, a 79 metres Sierra Leone registered tanker had been drifting at sea for several months. The vessel was apparently left adrift in the ocean, after its crew had been taken by a foreign naval vessel to Oman until it was relocated several days ago. [ECOTERRA Intl. sent out the alerts] The Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA) evaluated that the drifting 1,332 Gross Tonnage (GRT) tanker posed a danger to navigation, as well as an environmental threat for the Seychelles' diverse and sensitive marine ecosystem. To mitigate the associated risks, it was decided that the vessel had to be towed back to the safety of Port Victoria, where the SMSA would initiate contact with the owners to decide the fate of the vessel."

In a joint operation mounted this week, the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG) and Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA) recovered the ghost-ship in an operation which saw the participation of PS Andromache and Tug Allouette taking place some 200 nautical miles South West of Mahe Island.

Members of the visit, board, search, and seizure team from the guided-
missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) deliver food and water to the crew
of the motor tanker Esperanza. Esperanza has been adrift at sea 17 days.
U.S. Navy photo by Fire Controlman First Class Stephen J. Zeller)

Further investigations will show if the commanding officer of USS Sterett tried to at least avert the grave danger posing by this floating vessel and reported properly to the Indian and Sierra Leone authorities as well as to the naval command centres - or if he just steamed the hosted crew on one of their naval fun trips to Oman and left them there without doing the necessary to avert the danger the abandoned vessel posed for now two month.

USS Sterett apparently was also the vessel which is implicated the most in the failed rescue operation concerning four U.S.American citizens on SY Quest, who were killed by the Somali pirates in the process of U.S. negotiations.

Observers feel - after now a second blotch involving this U.S.American warship was discovered - that this Commander and crew should be called home.

Kudos to the Government of the Seychelles and their mariners to secure this dangerous ship on the loose.


MV Esperanza was still drifting and uncontrolled on the Indian Ocean, our observers reported on 21 February 2011. From the position where it was spotted on 10 February 2010 in Latitude: 03 22.7S and Longitude 050 29.1 E, which is around 450Nm straight 90 degrees off the coastline of Mogadishu, Somalia, 630Nm off straight East of Malindi, Kenya, and approximately 300Nm off the Seychelles, the vessel drifted around 350nm further south-south-east through the archipelago of the Seychelles.

CDR McPherson's Facebook entry

Rescue & Assistance - Motor Tanker Esperanza

To add to the story, it was an amazing effort by the entire ship and one of the most rewarding moments many of us have had in our careers.

When we came upon them, they were desperate. The Chief Mate was frantic on the radio asking for help. They were drifting out of the sea lanes & saw very few ships, if any, each day. No one rendered any aid. Sterett came upon them and immediately started to help.

The engineers performed herculean efforts to repair the diesel engine of the Esperanza. Our guys were able to get the engineering plant running again---including one 17 hour period where the vessel was steaming toward its home port over 560 miles away.

In the end, however, the engine and auxillary systems were just in too poor shape for sustained operation, and we had to take the Esperanza crew aboard.

They all felt that the Sterett saved their lives. The Master gave me the most heartfelt letter I've ever received thanking Sterett for saving the lives of his crew. The Chief Mate told me that there is good & bad people everywhere, but he "could not find any bad people on Sterett." I could not agree more. You all should be extremely proud of the work that your Sailors are doing out here. I know I am!

CDR McPherson, Commanding Officer, USS Sterett ______

Merchant vessel Esperanza had apparently NO LIVING SOUL on board and neither crew or pirates were around. The vessel appeared abandoned and is slightly listing to the observers.

After we reported a warning from the Seychelles was sounded over ten days ago to shipping in the area concerning this vessel.

The warning was, however, not published widely by the navies, who obviously did nothing to solve the case.

Sources at a Maritime Rescue Centre stated now that they heard this "Esperanza" actually was said to be missing already since 2010, though neither flag nor other details were known to these centres.

Observers wondered why none of the naval conglomerates and maritime security operations in the area - except the Seychelles - had reported or followed up the case.

Efforts to contact the Indian owners of a Sierra-Leone flagged "Esperanza", a small 1,332 dwt oil products tanker, have so far been without success and "officially" it is said to be in the docks and listed as "In Casualty Or Repairing" in the ship register.

The ship was built within the Moru line of small tankers produced after a Japanese blueprint by the Kyokuyo Shipyard Corporation, which has some common basic construction features with numerous purse seiners built to satisfy Japan's voracious demand of tuna.

The ghost-vessel was first named Kiyo Maru No. 53 and then also at one point of time Arabian Victory. Her registered owner and manager is PARAMOUNT MERCHANDISE PVT LTD of Plot 95-96, Sector 44, Nerul, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

Observers feared that the owner just wanted to sink the vessel to cash in on insurance or to scrap the ship without costs.

Vessel off the dock and on the loose?

During the last two weeks during which the drifter was now observed closer, the ship was floating in south-south-easterly direction.

Esperanza crew with Exec. Officer of the U.S.S. Starett.

The MV Esperanza made over five hundred nautical miles on that last ghost voyage. Even while passing Les Amirantes Islands unhindered none of the naval conglomerates except the Seychelles coastguard had paid any attention.

Though naval forces regularly blow in exercise manner tiny coastal fishing vessels out of the waters at the Somali coast for "the hazard they pose to shipping", despite that there is no "shipping", none of the many foreign warships in the zone had at least since now two weeks secured this drifting ghost-ship, which posed a grave danger.

The Seychelles Coast Guard also overcame fear expressed by some that it was a booby-trapped bait.

Local seamen report that the vessel was one of the fuel-paddlers in the region, who siphon petrol or diesel from passing larger tankers and sell it clandestinely along the coasts, and that they might have as well been involved in blockade-breaking deliveries, supplying the harbours of Southern Somalia held by Al-Shabaab fundamentalists.

Thanks to the Seychelles the stray Esperanza is back on the leach and the Indian government as well as the flag-state Sierra-Leone certainly will have to follow up with the Indian owner of the vessel for blunt violation of several international maritime laws.

Source: ECOTERRA and Facebook

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Unknown August 20, 2011 7:47 pm (Pacific time)

In relation to the Editor's comments, yes we did try to tow it but it would have presented a dangerous precedent. If we tow one there would be more asking for a tow and that would take away from our ability to respond to dangerous situations. But i do agree with the first responders comments, IF you had actually been there you would have known how hard the crew worked to get that ship running again. Oh yes you included the former CO's comments but his words still don't do justice to the guys that went over there and helped people they had never met before. From the sound of it you would have left them die but that's my Opinion but go ahead and slander people if you want that's your freedom to do so, but i would suggest that you take consideration to the men and women who are out there defending that freedom for you and not knock them for doing what they are told to do.

Tim King: seriously, I do not question your credibility, I have certainly heard the same positive reflections from crew members beyond yourself, so I want to be clear that I understand and do not disagree with you.   I know the story came across from a different angle, at any rate thank you for your service.

unknown April 29, 2011 2:28 pm (Pacific time)

Listen I was on the ship for 9 days fixing it and it was not repaired improperly, we restored propulsion 3 times to that ship that had a really poor material condition and for you guys to knock a great man, crew that saved the lives of 13 mariners that their own country left them to die out there, well your opinon is your a opinion and you go F$%^ yourself with your opinion. Get your facts straight first instead of coming up with false claims and pointing fingers at great people that saved the lives of 13 no one else cared about.


Editor: Well why don't you have a medal created for yourself you big brave sailor.  There are two sides to this story, did you notice that I included the commander's notes?  I worked from a press release from the Seychelless government.  Why did you guys think it was OK to leave a pile of junk laying on the high sea anyway?  Ever heard of a tow rope?    

EX crew comment March 7, 2011 5:01 am (Pacific time)

I was on that ship last May 2010. After we all crew refuse to take that ship to Mumbai from Rhanagiri Dist where the ship lying for serveral month due to water ingressed into engine room up to boiler deck level and they save from the sea and towed to Rhanagiri dist. Also we had informed to ITF and NUSI for that ship was un sea wealthy.if you all need to know more info , lfet your comment on this site. I will feed back.

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