The race is on to save twelve crew members who are believed to be missing
after their South Korea-flagged bulk carrier sank in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday (12/7 2007).
Eleven of the crew of 23 from the 43,600-dwt Orchid Sun (built 1985)
have been rescued in a joint effort
by the Oman Coast Guard and military and commercial vessels in the area.
The handymax bulker began to sink at about 23:00 GMT on Wednesday 90 miles off Omanʼs
east coast and is believed to have become fully submerged shortly after.
A US defence official based in Bahrain said there are reports of a hole in the shipʼs bow.
The Japanese naval ship Suzunami dispatched a helicopter
which picked up one of the crew members while a commercial vessel plucked a further seven from the water.
Two other crew members were reported
to have been spotted from the Japanese helicopter floating in a life raft.
A Pakistani commercial vessel named as Tippu Sultan and two other ships
are assisting with the search and rescue operation
but are believed to yet be some distance away from the casualty site.
The 23 crew members are believed to be made up of 13 Filipinos, eight South Koreans and two Chileans.
Four Filipinos, two Koreans and one Chilean are believed to be amongst those so far rescued. A spokesperson at the
shipʼs owner and manager, Seoul-based SW Shipping, would not comment on the situation at an early stage,
but said it is in contact with coastguard authorities from South Korea, Oman and the US.
The Orchid Sun was sailing from Iran to China with a 42,000-ton cargo of iron ore when it sank.
It is classed by the Korean Register with insurance from the Japan Ship Owners P+I Association.