Once upon a time, it was known as “the world’s largest sea-food house,” it was docked in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter for nearly half a century. In its golden era, this was where the Queen Of England was served during her visits to Hong Kong, which also became a hot spot for movie sets including James Bond.
Unfortunately, the past will remain in memories, as the Jumbo Floating Restaurant is now gone with the wind.
On June 14, 2022, the historic Jumbo Floating Restaurant departed from its long-time home and was towed away from Aberdeen. It was scheduled to leave for repairs in South East Asia.
Out of nowhere, the news of its sinking suddenly hit the media.
A few days later, Hong Kong Marine Department said the floating restaurant was still in the waters around the Paracel Islands, also known as Xisha Islands.What Happened to This Gigantic, Imperial Palace-looking Boat?
Jumbo Floating Restaurant departed from Hong Kong on June 14, 2022. Its parent company Hong Kong Aberdeen Group issued a statement, which revealed that on June 19, when the sea-food house was being towed in the waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, it encountered adverse windy weather, causing water to enter the vessel and it tipped over.
The tugboat company responsible attempted to rescue the vessel but to no success. Since the water at the location where the sinkage happened is over 1000 meters deep, making its salvage project work extremely difficult. The public began to connect multiple pieces of evidence to tie together conspiracy theories, which created suspicion as to whether it was simply and innocently accidental.Is it a Coincidence or An Accident?
Some citizens highlighted that Jumbo Floating Restaurant is an iconic symbol representing the colonial-era Hong Kong was prospering. So it won’t be a surprise that the Hong Kong government is trying to wipe out anything that remotely reminds people of the colonization. Erasing memories would be the political considerations behind it.
Since the early days of the pandemic, the floating restaurant has been forced to suspend its operation. Its group had to spend several million dollars for inspection, repair, and maintenance on it yearly, to meet its license requirements.
Sing Tao Daily quoted the chairman of Hong Kong Insurance Professionals Federation, Philip Mak Shun-pong, “It is estimated that the restaurant was insured for at least 100 million Hong Kong dollars.
That brings some citizens’ conspiracy theories closer to reality: having the boat sunken in the middle of the ocean, not only will it save millions of dollars worth of repair, the company will still pocket the insurance claim.Why Wasn’t the Destination Announced?
Jumbo Floating Restaurant was towed by two tugboat companies, Yoon Fu and Yoon Wai On the June 14, departing from the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, marking its final sail in Hong Kong waters.
After that, the boat was handed over to an ocean-going freighter for the tug-away. The routes of both tug-boats became suspicious, as their information couldn’t be found on many of the public ship information or data websites. The company which received the boat later is an international South-Korean boat tugging company called BOSUNG. They confirmed that they were hired to tow Jumbo Floating Restaurant away to Cambodia.
Hong Kong Aberdeen Group has never published the destination of the boat on leaving Hong Kong. They only claimed that the floating restaurant will be towed to South East Asia for repair first.
From a global ship tracking and positioning website, Marine Traffic, the destination for the tow boat was Cambodia. Its estimated arrival was on at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 27.
Other than that, the company never responded to media queries about the exact location of where the tip-over happened after the accident. It also didn’t disclose the estimated damage or whether they plan to pursue loss and damaged from the tugboat company.Did the Ship Meet With Stormy Waves?
Although Hong Kong Aberdeen Group said Jumbo Floating Restaurant met with a storm near the waters of the Paracel Islands, many netizens and media speculated. They discovered that on the day of the so-called accident, the Hong Kong Observatory forecast for the South China Sea pointed out that the wind level around the Paracel Islands was only between force two to three. If correct, this means the wind speed was light or mild and was unlikely to be strong enough to flip and sink the floating restaurant.
i-Cable News Channel visited the South-Korean boat towing companies in Busan for an interview and clearly stated that Jumbo Floating Restaurant left Hong Kong in great conditions. Then on the afternoon of June 18, the ship encountered waves that were two meters high near the Paracel Islands. The CEO also said that level-two wind was the average regional condition. However, as every location is different, the estimation can never be precise, as well as the local tidal flow and currents. They concluded that incident was an accident.
An old shipman of the historic seafood boat pointed out to Ching Chung-C, who is the former financial columnist of the now-dissolved newspaper Apple Daily, that the bottom of the ship was already replaced about six or seven years ago. The towing company director displayed photos of the titled boat to an i-Cable reporter. The director said there were altogether eight buoyancy chambers, one of them on the left side of the ship was punctured by seawater, which then punctured another chamber. A total of two damaged buoyancy chambers caused the tilting and sinking to the port side.
Although six buoyancy chambers remained intact, the ship itself is 28 meters high, 79 meters long, and 25 meters wide. Its center of gravity was off centre, causing the entire ship to flip over, while occasionally parts of the vessel would likely float to the surface. Currently, the boat towing company says that it has arranged their towing boats to stand by, near the boat, to ensure that no other ship approaches it.Why Not Salvage the Vessel?
A board director of the boat company told i-Cable reporters that their staff tried to find a port nearby after the incident, to see whether they could make it back to shore or u-turn to Hong Kong. The situation unfortunately was not optimistic. “Due to insurance issues, salvaging the ship is completely impossible.” the director added.
Some insiders analyzed that the sinkage of Jumbo Floating Restaurant was because of a few things. Firstly, the weather becomes unstable during summertime. The insiders revealed additionally that the shipowner and the insurance company planned to arrange for divers to go under and destroy the other intact buoyancy chambers and wham the ship.
Lo Kin-kwong, a senior member of The Hong Kong Institute of Marine Technology, who is also a registered marine engineer, told Now News earlier, that the Jumbo Floating Restaurant was an unpowered wharf-boat, which makes the boat unsuitable for sailing or being dragged out to sea. There was also a chance of bad weather during the voyage. As to why they still chose to tug the boat out in the open water, or whether a risk assessment was conducted in advance, the board director said to Cable News, “Everything was done according to the shipowner’s instructions. No questions asked.”Is Jumbo Floating Restaurant Haunted?
Jumbo Seafood Restaurant was built in Hong Kong in 1971. However, there was a fire onboard before it opened for business, causing 34 deaths and 42 people to be injured. Since then, rumors spread that below-deck there were spirit tablets to mourn for the dead.
Since then, ghost stories would circulate about the gigantic ship. From a superstition perspective, it was believed that on the day when the boat was dragged out after the fire, there was no deity worship or memorial ceremony, which was why the boat “didn’t” want to be tugged away from Aberdeen and it took four hours to get it to move.
Some feng shui masters said a group of spirits refused to leave after the deaths in that tragic fire.
When Epoch Times’ reporter live-streamed the departure of Jumbo, some shipmates brought Chinese offerings for the lost spirits around the ship, praying for those who died below deck during the fire to rest peace.
Connie Yuen Follow
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