Talk:Wikinews investigates disappearance of Indonesian cargo ship Namse Bangdzod

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BASARNAS, which is the acronym for the search and rescue agency, have a contact email,, on their website. I sent the following:


Apologies for writing in English. I am working on a report about missing tanker Namse Bangdzod. Can you confirm please some information for me?

Is the ship still missing?

What resources are you using to search? (For example, are you searching the sea with your own ships and planes or Navy ships etc)

A shipping industry news website reports that automatic identification system data has been reported by as coming from this ship on January 6 with an unusual route. Are you aware of this?

Thank you for any help you can give me.


Will forward the original message and any replies to scoop. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 18:27, 8 January 2019 (UTC)Reply



This is a bit messy. The coastguard's website isn't actually operational. Like, I can't get it to load. Fortunately, Google can, or at least they did recently. They supply, at the very bottom, two contact email addresses. I chose to use the puskodal@ address. Here is a useful dictionary on terms that might be useful, in a security context, in understanding Indonesian topics. It lists the meaning of puskodal as shorthand for an Indonesian phrase translatable as command and control centre. I sent this message to them:


Apologies for writing in English. I am working on a report about missing tanker Namse Bangdzod. Can you confirm please some information for me?

Is the ship still missing?

What resources are you using to search? (For example, are you searching the sea with your own ships and planes or Navy ships etc)

When was the ship first reported missing?

A shipping industry news website reports that automatic identification system data has been reported by as coming from this ship on January 6 with an unusual route. Are you aware of this?

Thank you for any help you can give me.


Once again, will send the original to scoop and any replies will also go there. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 18:27, 8 January 2019 (UTC)Reply

Dr. Tristan Smith


Dr. Smith's expertise on AIS should be readily apparent by the simple fact he is an author of "Assessment of shipping’s efficiency using satellite AIS data" for The International Council on Clean Transportation. Here is his University College London profile. I sent him this:

Dear Dr Smith,

I am working on a report about the tanker Namse Bangdzod, which vanished Dec 27th with a crew of 12 in Indonesian waters. An industry publication has indicated AIS data shown on Marine Traffic's website has the vessel reestablishing AIS uplink on Jan 6. The report notes the track is erratic.

I was wondering if you can think of reasons this might be? I was wondering if this might be an indication the ship is drifting, or even simply that the AIS transmitter is malfunctioning.

I appreciate any insight you may be able to offer.


I quickly got back the following thoughtful and detailed response:

Dear Iain,

Thanks, interesting story - just had a quick look.

AIS transponders can be turned on/off at the crew’s discretion if its operation is deemed to be a safety risk. This means, for example, that in certain sea areas where piracy is a risk (e.g. Somalia, some parts of West Africa etc) transponders are turned off for certain periods of navigation to avoid attracting unwanted attention. This can involve them being turned off for several days at a time.

There are also some operations done on ships containing hazardous cargoes (which include product tankers), where all risks of sparking/arcs need to be removed and radio transmitting equipment is sometimes turned off for this reason. It would be unlikely that the duration of the AIS being switched off would last this long.

It could also be a power supply issue or faulty transponder.

And its also possible that the transponder has been ’spoofed’ in some way. A ship using a VHF set with an illegal but identical MMSI (callsign) could be transmitting and giving the impression that it was a different ship in order to try and undertake other activity (e.g. illegal fishing). In this scenario, it would normally be expected that both the legal and illegal transmission would be received but depending on how Marine Traffic handle this, its possible the two signals could be confused.

Besides AIS, ships broadcast their position at 6 hourly intervals on LRIT (Long Range Information and Tracking). This system is independent of AIS and is data collected by the country in which the ship is registered (flagged). The port/safety authority will presumably already be enquiring of the flag on this subject, but it tight be worth checking.

Hope that’s of some use.


Now, I'd never heard of LRIT. Well, I probably have, but I don't ever remember hearing of it. That sent me scrambling to grok the subject. I came across this from Safety4Sea. It explains that LRIT is a security system set up by the International Maritime Organisation to enable nations to quickly request and receive basic intelligence on any ships in their area to establish if they present a threat. It also notes "The LRIT system is mandatory for all passenger ships, high speed craft, mobile offshore drilling units and cargo ships of over 300 gross tonnes, and has been in force since July 2009."

So, I sent Tristan back the following:

Hello Tristan,

Thanks for your swift and detailed reply. I'm UK-based as well so I understand this may not have been the most convenient of times.

The LRIT data is an interesting point, one I was not aware of (or if I ever was, long forgotten). From a quick look it seems to be security based; I assume I'd be correct that in thinking emergency situations are something of an exception? (So, for example, a Singaporean or Australian navy ship that might happen to be in the vicinity could readily access this vessel's LRIT data?)



Tristan quickly responded:

Hi Iain, no problem, the working day knows no borders.

Yes, LRIT should be accessible to navies that have an SAR function I think:


SAR, of course, being the acronym for search and rescue. The link goes right to the IMO's page. It discusses "the rights and obligations of[...] Search and rescue services to receive LRIT information" and notes the regulations under which these are enshrined. Of note: The regulations date back to 1974. Regulations tend to be modified routinely in both domestic and international law without updating the year appended to the end unless they are really drastically rewritten from scratch, so this in no way conflicts with the 2009 date above. The same regulations require ships to transmit. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 18:44, 8 January 2019 (UTC)Reply
I since exchanged a couple more emails with this researcher. The next one I sent I specifically noted I wasn't seeking comment, just wishing to thank him again and update him on what I had gleaned. He responded, mentioning something I hoped to use. Since I had expressly said I wasn't seeking comment, I viewed this as private embargoed correspondence but nonetheless asked if he would go on the record. He would not, which is entirely reasonable (it was an offhand remark made in private correspondence, after all, never intended to be thoughtful expert comment). He did, however, offer the following suggested quote to go on the record: “Its plausible that an explanation that the AIS transponder is not transmitting is that it had been turned off by pirates who wanted to hamper the efforts of a rescue mission”. As ever, the updated email chain is imminently going to scoop. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 18:16, 9 January 2019 (UTC)Reply

Nationality of ownership


Sources list the owner and operator as PT Petronusa Niaga Energy and PT Surabaya Shipping Lines, respectively. Bloomberg profile for Petronusa Niaga has only one piece of info: this it is Indonesian. FourSquare actually has a checkin location of the exact street address for Surabaya Shipping Lines; it is, as you might expect, in Surabaya. As a sanity check, PT is the approximate Indonesian equivalent to GmbH, or Ltd, or Sarl. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 18:56, 8 January 2019 (UTC)Reply

Milltech Marine


Milltech Marine is a maritime consultancy agency. They seem to use the tagline "your AIS experts" and sell/advertise AIS gear on their website. I used their contact form to submit this:


I am working on a report about the missing ship Namse Bangdzod. The vessel and 12 crewmembers have been missing since Dec 27th in Indonesian waters. An industry publication notes displays a reestablishment of AIS data being received on Jan 6, but the track is erratic and unusual.

Would you be willing to briefly comment on reasons this might be? I can think of two but I could be quite wrong:

The AIS data is faulty;

The ship is drifting uncontrolled.

I thank you in advance for your valuable time.


They were most helpful:

Hi Iain, thanks for contacting us.

It is a little hard to definitively say what's going on but there are a few other considerations:

1. Beyond a certain range (about 20-30 miles from a shore station), the AIS transmission is no longer picked up by a shore station and is then picked up by a satellite. To get an up to date view of the satellite based track you would need a MarineTraffic subscription for that vessel.

2. Even with a subscription, there might be issues with the satellites picking up the signal consistently. There are a lot of factors that could have an impact such as the AIS equipment, the quality and placement of the AIS/VHF and GPS antennas, interference form other equipment etc.

3. As you mentioned the AIS equipment could be malfunctioning. For example, if the GPS data is not present the transponder will not transmit since it doesn't know where it is.

4. Another possibility is the AIS equipment has been tampered with or has been turned off for some of the time - either intentionally or accidentally or due to a power malfunction.

Since AIS is automatic, it will function as long as it has power and the antennas and sensors are in place. For example, even if the crew abandoned ship the AIS system would continue to send regular transmissions as long as there is power and antenna connections. As you probably know, Class A transponders send out position information every 10 seconds when underway so other vessels within 20-30 miles should see a regular track that follows the ship's real course. But even if the transponder is transmitting there is no guarantee that other vessels or MarineTraffic can see it given the possibilities above. I hope that helps.

Doug Miller Milltech Marine

I will be forwarding supporting correspondence to scoop, naturally. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 19:12, 8 January 2019 (UTC)Reply

Shipping databases


Here is the Marine Traffic page for the ship under examination. The last publically available location (for well over $100/month you can get newer results) at time of writing this comment was listed as: Position Received: 22 hours, 47 minutes ago (2019-01-07 21:09 (UTC)) Latitude / Longitude: -5.757743° / 106.8648°. It states the vessel was moving at 3.9knots at that time. A helpful little link to a 'live' map is included: here, which shows it's position as a few miles from Jakarta. VesselFinder declares "The NAMSE BANGDZOD's port of calls and sailing schedule for the past months are listed below as detected by our live AIS ship tracking system." There's nothing there to be seen. Vessel Tracker says the ship was "last seen" 59 days ago. It also has a news sidebar for the ship: "The tanker was already on Jakarta anchorage according to the [AIS] track but in fact wasn’t." Damn, but this is weird. Maritime Connector gives a place of construction (attained via of Japan. It says "Information about this ship position is not available." BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 20:15, 8 January 2019 (UTC)Reply

The databases all give a similar weight, slightly divergent from the sources. I'm going with the database weight; the news orgs say nothing of how they got their info, which is usually from shipping databases anyway. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 21:36, 8 January 2019 (UTC)Reply

Sampit is in Borneo


Using a simple and obvious yet underutilised primary source: a map. Here is Sampit on its riverbank; zoom out with the little +/- buttons on the top left corner, and you will discover it resides in Borneo. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 14:25, 9 January 2019 (UTC)Reply


"Singapore, India, and Australia have in the past conducted emergency searches of the Java Sea: All three nations offered military assistance after Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 vanished in December 2014."

These two sentences (and nothing else) are sourced to the related article (A FA, no less). BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 19:56, 8 January 2019 (UTC)Reply

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