August 18, 2013
An asylum seeker vessel with 205 people on board has been intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy after the vessel sent out a mayday call on Sunday morning.
The boat was about halfway between Indonesia and Christmas Island when it sent out a call for distress at 8.11am with reports it was sinking.
A spokesperson from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said a merchant vessel and two naval ships responded to the call for assistance.
“Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) Australia received a call for assistance from a vessel at 8.11am this morning,” the spokesperson said.
“It issued an urgency broadcast to shipping regarding the vessel at 8.56am.”
A merchant vessel responded to the broadcast, and it was due to meet the boat at 1.30pm.
HMAS Parramatta, a frigate, and HMAS Pirie, a patrol boat, were also sent to meet the vessel, the Parramatta intercepting the boat at 1pm.
“Parramatta has boarded the vessel and an unconfirmed count of 205 people are said to be on board,” the spokesman said.
“At this stage Parramatta is conducting routine checks on the vessel and its passengers.”
The Rescue Co-ordination Centre, a division of the Maritime Safety Authority, co-ordinated the search and rescue operation and provided updates to the Indonesian search and rescue service Basarnas.
Meanwhile, another boat is reported to have been intercepted north-west of Christmas Island on Sunday. There were reportedly 48 passengers on board the boat.