THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority is co-ordinating a multinational search effort involving several merchant ships for the crew of a Chinese fishing boat.

AMSA understands there were 39 crew on board the stricken vessel Lu Peng – Yuan Yu, including 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesian and five Filipino nationals.

AMSA’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre received a distress signal from the boat on the morning of 16 May, sparking a search effort in a remote location in the Indian Ocean, around 5000 kilometres northwest of Perth.

Merchant vessels involved in the search, led by Australia, have been flagged in Panama, Marshall Islands, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Liberia.

The Panama-flagged bulk carrier Navios Taurus sighted an upturned hull in the search area on 16 May, along with some debris.

AMSA said no survivors had been sighted by the afternoon of 19 May, and that two crew who died are reported to have been recovered by the Chinese navy.

As the search continues, eight vessels were to provide assistance on 19 May, including four merchant ships, three Chinese navy ships and one Chinese fishing vessel.

A Sri Lankan naval ship with divers on board was on its way to the scene and was expected to arrive over the weekend.

Four aircraft were also to be deployed on: AMSA’s Perth-based challenger rescue aircraft, two aircraft under charter to AMSA and an ADF P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

The vessels and aircraft were to focus on a 12,000 square kilometre area on 19 May.

“AMSA has been in continuous contact with the MRCC in Beijing to coordinate search activities and plans,” the organisation said in an update.

“We have also been liaising with search and rescue agencies in India, along with the Sri Lanka Navy.

“Authorities in the Maldives have provided expedited access to their airspace and airports, increasing valuable search time for our aircraft.

“Australia has also been working closely with United States authorities in Diego Garcia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and La Reunion throughout the search.”

ASMA said weather conditions were extreme on the day it received the distress signal, with Cyclone Fabian causing winds of 120 kilometres per hour and seven-metre seas.


In a media release on Saturday (20 May) AMSA said it had suspended the search for the crew of the vessel Lu Peng – Yuan Yu.

“Despite significant multinational efforts, at this stage, of the 39 crew, two have been recovered, deceased,” AMSA said in its statement.

“AMSA would like to thank all those who assisted with the multinational search – an example of partners in the Indo-Pacific region working together to keep our seas safer.

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with the families of the affected crew, and we acknowledge the distress they will be feeling at this time.”