SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - What started out as a normal cargo pick-up for Mr Mohamed Sharjahan, 30, and his four-man crew turned into a mission to rescue nine Indonesian crew members of a sinking boat.
On Thursday night, Sunlight Poseidon, an 18m by 4m cargo boat, left Penjuru Terminal and was heading to a nearby anchorage to drop off cargo when the crew saw the silhouette of a small boat in the distance at about 10.30pm.
Mr Sharjahan, the captain and boarding officer of Sunlight Poseidon, knew something was wrong when he realised the ship did not have its navigational lights turned on.
"Though we were moving closer to it, the boat in the distance seemed to be getting smaller. That was when we decided to investigate," Mr Sharjahan told The New Paper on Friday (March 23).
The crew cast the boat's spotlight to the sea but only saw a few floating planks, with no other sign of the vessel or survivors.
The captain was about to turn away when he heard cries for help and saw the frantic waving of the survivors in the dark.
He said: "They were calling out 'tolong, tolong' (Malay for help), and there was nothing else on my mind but their safety."
Mr Sharjahan, a seaman of four years, said his fear was they would hurt the survivors.
"We couldn't go closer for fear that the current from the boat might kill them, so we encouraged them to swim to us."
The crew spent 20 minutes pulling up the nine men.
A spokesman for the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it received a report of a collision between an Indonesian-registered craft, Samudra Indah, and a Singapore-registered bunker tanker, Explorer, at East Jurong Channel at 10.25pm on Thursday.
While the Samudra Indah sank, the Explorer did not sustain any damage. No injuries or oil pollution were reported.
Investigations are ongoing.
In a statement to TNP on Monday, Equatorial Marine Fuel Management, owner of the Explorer, confirmed the collision. It is conducting its own investigation and cooperating with the authorities.
After they were pulled on board, the Samudra Indah survivors were shivering and weak from the ordeal.
Said Mr Sharjahan: "They kept thanking us for saving them, but were too in shock to give us any other details."
The crew informed the MPA and the Police Coast Guard, who took the survivors back to shore.
By 4pm on Saturday, the Samudra Indah had been pulled out of the sea.
Mr Foong Jun Jie, 28, an operations executive for RW Marine Services, which owns Sunlight Poseidon, said: "The crew took the initiative to go out of their way to save these survivors.
"We are all proud of what they did."