BEIJING, March 17 (Xinhua) -- A foreign cargo ship with 21 crew members on board has been towed to safety in the Pearl River estuary by a Chinese professional rescue ship after it broke down off the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea on March 3, the Ministry of Transport said Friday.
At 2:20 p.m. on March 3, the Nanhai Rescue Bureau of the Ministry of Transport received a report that a Panamanian cargo ship had suffered a main engine failure 120 nautical miles southwest of Wan'an Tan in China's Nansha Islands.
The engine could not be repaired on site and the ship had drifted 90 nautical miles southward by the time the report was received. The ship had 21 crew members on board but was not carrying any cargo.
Upon receiving the report, the Nansha maritime search and rescue center sent the large marine rescue ship "Nanhai Rescue 115" to undertake the operation. The rescue vessel was on duty at Yongshu reef, part of the Nansha Islands.
The rescue vessel arrived at the scene on the afternoon of March 4. After more than four hours of collaborative work, the two vessels were properly connected and the towing began.
After nine days of efforts, the ship was successfully towed into waters of the Pearl River estuary, having covered a distance of nearly 1,100 nautical miles, overcoming unfavorable conditions such as strong winds, high waves and deep water.
The Chinese government dispatched professional maritime rescue forces from the Ministry of Transport to the Nansha Islands and reefs on July 27, 2018. The force has carried out 69 rescue missions and sent out forces 135 times, rescuing 294 people and 17 ships in distress, and saving assets worth about 1.41 billion yuan (203.77 million U.S. dollars). ■