On March 31, the 53 meter long, 62 dwt high speed catamaran ferry Eldorado struck an unknown object in the Sea of Japan while en route to Ulleundo Island from Dokdo, South Korea. The Eldorado sustained hull damage and water ingress in the engine room. The crew was able to control the flooding with the vessel’s pumps and maintain power. The Eldorado contacted authorities who dispatched a patrol vessel to the scene. The patrol vessel escorted the Eldorado which had to proceed at reduced speed to Ulleungdo Island. No reports of injuries to the 403 passengers and crew on board.
On March 25, the 34 meter long, 223 gt high speed catamaran passenger ferry Pink Dolphin ran aground off the coast of Sinan, South Korea. The ferry was en route to Mokpo from Hongdo Island with 163 passengers and crew. The Pink Dolphin was proceeding in dense fog when it ran up on the rocks near Heuksan Island.
Six people sustained minor injuries during the grounding. The Korean Coast Guard arrived on scene and took the injured off the ferry to Heuksan Island for treatment. The remaining crew and passengers waited for more than an hour before a rescue boat arrived. All passengers were transferred off the Pink Dolphin.
Reports state the Pink Dolphin may have run aground to avoid colliding with a fishing vessel. Authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.
The 17.5 meter long wooden catamaran ferry Butiraoi was reported missing in the Pacific Ocean in the Kiribati Islands. The Butiraoi had departed from Nonouti on January 18 bound for Betio. The voyage of 160 miles typically takes 2 days to complete failed to arrive on January 20. A search began for the missing vessel including aircraft from New Zealand and Fiji.
Reports state no signs of the vessel or the 50 persons on board as of January 26. The search includes many small atolls in a wide area. Additional reports state the catamaran had undergone repairs to its propeller shaft just before departing Nonouti.
A New Zealand aircraft spotted seven survivors in a small boat on a search on January 28. The aircraft dropped supplies to the survivors while authorities requested assistance from vessels in the area. The fishing vessel Lomalo which is 92 kilometers away from the survivors is expected to reach the survivors later the same day.
Survivors have told authorities over radio that the ferry had lost stability and capsized. They had little time and had just enough time to get into the small dinghy before the ferry sank. The dinghy had no engine or water on board.
Reports state additional debris has been spotted in the search area.