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Indonesian Cargo Ship Disappears off New Guinea

search for cargo ship that disappeared off Indonesia
Mutia Ladjoni 7 disappeared after departing a port in Western New Guinea (shipping company photo)

Published Nov 14, 2022 3:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Indonesian authorities have a search and rescue mission underway in the eastern portion of the country after an inter-island cargo vessel was reported missing over the weekend. They are reporting that the vessel was operating with a crew of 16 aboard and that no distress message was received.

The 3,861 dwt vessel Mutia Ladjoni 7 departed the port of Timika in Indonesia on Western New Guinea on Wednesday, November 9. The authorities were able to determine that the ship had completed unloading cargo for the city of Asike and departed as normal bound for the port of Bontang on the island of Borneo.

“Their goal was to stop at Dobo Port to refuel,” said a spokesperson for the SAR office. “The ship has lost contact … and until now its whereabouts are unknown.” The ship’s owner told the SAR office that they lost contact with the vessel on November 11 while it was in the Aru (Arafura) Sea. They tried to make contact again by radio on November 12 and then reported the vessel as missing when they were unable to establish communications.

A joint SAR operation began on November 13 involving the Dobo SAR office along with other SAR teams. The Indonesian Navy and the regional police are also involved in the search. The SAR team is also appealing for assistance from fishing vessels that were operating in the area that might have possibly seen the Mutia Ladjoni 7 as well as to be on the lookout for any information related to the ship and its disappearance.

The vessel, registered in Indonesia, is 278 feet long and carries general cargo between the islands. It was built in 1983 and is believed not to have had any port state control detentions. The vessel is operated by PT Pelayaran Surya Bintang Timur, which is headquartered in Surabaya. The company reports it owns six ships with a capacity of 2000 to 7000 dwt providing inter-island cargo service on tramp and liner routes.

The SAR team said the search will continue to locate the crew or to find information about the disappearance of the cargo ship.