Storms cut visit short as Indonesian tall ship mistaken for asylum-seeker vessel


A tall ship that broke its mast off the coast of Shark Bay last week was originally thought to be an asylum-seeker vessel.

Indonesian tall ship Kri Dewaruci broke its mast at Steep Point, about 50km off the coast of Shark Bay last Wednesday, August 21.

The 58m ship with its 155 crew was escorted to Geraldton by an RAAF Dornier aircraft, arriving at 3pm Thursday.

Stormy conditions cut its visit to Geraldton, short and the ship arrived in Fremantle on Saturday.

The ship was in Australian waters as part of its preparation for an international tall ships race in October.

Its captain told the Australian Maritime Safety Authority it needed no immediate assistance.

Shark Bay safety authorities responded to several calls from the media as the ship was reported in distress, quashing rumours it was an asylum-seeker boat.

The City of Greater Geraldton prepared welcome events for the 160 crew and naval cadets on board the Kri Dewaruci, but the Port’s swell problems forced it to sail for Fremantle on Friday.

Indonesian Naval Attache Didik Kurniawan said the Port Authority advised on Friday that all ships would have to be cleared from the docks in preparation for forecast heavy swells yesterday.

Colonel Didik said the masts on the Kri Dewaruci had been inspected by damage assessors and the decision had been made to leave that day rather than risk the swells and having to anchor offshore.

Earlier on Friday, Colonel Didik and two officers from the ship discussed with City officials hospitality options like bus tours and a foreshore march by Indonesian cadets followed by a barbecue near the yacht club on Saturday afternoon.

At the time, the ship was expected to be in dock for at least two nights.

“It has been very good being here and a pity we could not enjoy the hospitality that was being planned, but we needed to leave on Friday to arrive in Fremantle before the swells and the forecast storm,” he said.








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