The Malaysian coast guard has been forced to intervene to prevent a crewless ship from potentially colliding with a Petronas-operated gas platform.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) confirmed via social media on Tuesday it had received a report from an Indonesian shipping company that the Winposh Rampart was drifting without a crew.

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The incident initially occurred in Vietnamese waters when the Limin Rosmina anchor handling vessel lost its tow rope in bad weather while towing the Winposh Rampart from Matak, Indonesia, to Yang Pu, China.

The MMEA said the Winposh Rampart then drifted into Malaysian waters and its risk assessment found the vessel could potentially collide with the Petronas Telok A platform, creating a potential “life-threatening” incident if no intervention was taken.

As a result, the MMEA coordinated with Petronas to tow the ghost ship to a safer location, with local media citing MMEA director-general Maritime Admiral Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som as saying the operation involved the Jujur Maritime vessel (KM) and AW139 aircraft, while Petronas sent the Icon Lotus and SK Pilot offshore supply vessels to assist.

He added that the Winposh Rampart was now being towed by the Icon Lotus to the Kemaman supply basin in Terengganu, Malaysia.

The Telok gas field lies in the South China Sea, nearly 200 kilometres off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia and was initially developed under a 50:50 joint venture between Petronas and US supermajor ExxonMobil.

Output from Telok A commenced in March 2013 and was the first part of a two phase development involving two four-legged unmanned gas satellite platforms — tied back to the Guntong E gas platform — and 14 development wells.