Just before dawn on Saturday, May 12, a Chinese container ship crashed into a South Korean freighter 38 miles southeast of Dalian, China. The South Korean freighter “Golden Rose” was completely disabled after the incident and subsequently sank. The Chinese ship left the scene immediately after the accident. It did not report the incident nor did it stop to aide the sinking “Golden Rose.” The sixteen crewmen of the “Golden Rose” remain missing.
The bow of Chinese container ship named “Jinsheng” had collided into the “Golden Rose” while maneuvering through heavy fog.
According to information from South Korea, the Chinese ship did not conduct search and rescue operations after the collision. The “Jinsheng” did not report the collision to coastal authorities and/or offer aide to the sinking “Golden Rose.” South Korean reports indicate that the “Jinsheng” left the scene immediately after the collision and returned to the port at Dalian. It was not until the Chinese ship arrived at Dalian at 10 o'clock that same morning that it finally reported the collision to the Chinese Maritime Affairs Bureau. By then, seven hours had passed since the collision. As a result, opportunity for rescue of the sixteen missing crewmen of the South Korean freighter had been lost.
According to the South Korean Ship Safety Control Organization, Chinese naval authorities, upon notification of the collision, dispatched two rescue helicopters and over sixty rescue ships to the site of the accident. However, the sixteen Korean crewmembers of the “Golden Rose” remain missing. The search by Chinese naval authorities continues.
According to the South Korean Ship Safety Control Organization, China is a member of the International Maritime Affairs Organization. As a member, Chinese ships are required to carry out search and rescue operations and to immediately notify naval authorities after any collision at sea. The Chinese ship did not engage in rescue operations and/or immediately report the collision. Instead, the Chinese ship had fled from the scene.
Crewmembers from the “Jinsheng” made statements regarding the collision after arriving at Dalian. “The ship had strongly trembled as they maneuvered through the fog, but after only a momentary stop, it had resumed its normal speed and proceeded forward,” said a crewmember. “The crew did not realize a collision with another ship had occurred,” said others. They also claimed that they had not realized that a collision had taken place until the maintenance team in Dalian noticed the damage to their ship's bow. When the damage to their ship was discovered, the Chinese Maritime Affairs Bureau was then informed of a possible collision with another ship.
According to the South Korean Ship Safety Control Organization, it would be almost impossible for two large ships to collide at sea and not be aware that a collision had taken place. The sound from such a collision would be equivalent to that of a large bomb exploding and impossible to miss. “It would be impossible for a ship's helmsman to ignore such a loud sound and not investigate its cause,” said Minister of the South Korean Ship Safety Control Organization.
Further inconsistencies included the fact that the “Jinsheng” claimed to have reported the accident to the Chinese Maritime Affairs Bureau prior to its arrival at Dalian. Therefore, the claim that they did not realize they had hit another ship until after they reached port is self-contradictory.
The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has remained discrete in discussing the issues surrounding the collision. Officials from the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs have traveled to Yantai to investigate. They have also made statements to the effect that at present “the fault” from the Chinese side has not yet been verified. The South Koreans are hopeful that the incident will not develop into a diplomatic dispute or stir up hatred among people of the two countries.