In the early hours of Sunday morning, the container ship Zephyr Lumos collided with the bulk carrier Galapagos off the port of Muar in the Strait of Malacca, causing severe damage to the Galapagos.
The Malaysian Coast Guard received a distress call from the Zephyr Lumos reporting a collision three minutes after midnight Sunday, according to Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria, the agency’s Johor district chief. A second call from the Galapagos came shortly thereafter through the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas). The Coast Guard requested Malaysian Navy assets to arrive quickly at the scene.
The Zephyr Lumos had struck the Galapagos on the starboard side, amidships, opening a deep gash in its hull. Photos taken by rescuers show the Galapagos heeling slightly to starboard after the collision.
In a statement, Admiral Zakaria said initial investigation suggests a possible failure of the Galapagos’ steering system, which caused it to veer in front of the Zephyr Lumos. “The MV Galapagos, registered in Malta, reportedly suffered a steering system failure, which forced it to shift to the right [starboard] when the UK-registered Zephyr Lumos was overtaking it,” Zakaria said.
In a statement to the Marianas media, the owner of the Galapagos denied that the vessel had suffered a steering failure and accused the Zephyr Lumos of attempting an unsafe overtaking maneuver.
No seafarers were injured, but the agency reported a spill later on Sunday, and images taken after dawn show a sheen on the water. The case is being investigated by the Malaysian Marine Department and the Department of Environment, and both vessels have been detained pending the outcome.