On or about December 20, 2013, it was reported that the river cruising vessel SAIGON PADNAW had sunk while under tow during a repositioning trip from Vietnam to Singapore. Being designed for rivers rather than open ocean, the vessel had very little freeboard and in heavy seas off the coast of Malaysia the hull supposedly was swamped causing it to capsize and sink. There was no one aboard so there were no casualties. Or witnesses, other than the towing crew.
Now in a rather bizarre twist, there is the possibility that the vessel was stolen rather than sunk. A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the recovery of the SAIGON PADNAW. In an appeal to maritime and travel industry contacts, Pandaw founder Paul Strachan wrote: “I expect you will have heard rumours that the Saigon was stolen in an act of piracy rather than sunk. I cannot comment. But we have offered a reward for any information that might lead to its recovery. Please pass the reward notice to any contacts you might have, particularly in Indonesia. Meanwhile, we have investigators working on the ground.”
The SAIGON PADNAW was to have been renamed the SAGAING PADNAW once it began cruise service in the newly popular river cruising destination of Myanmar (Burma). It was to cruise between Prome (Pyay) and Mandalay on the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers. The ship has three decks above the hull and contains 30 staterooms. The dimensions are 180 feet in length, with a beam of 38 feet and only a 3 foot draft. It was newly built in 2011 for the growing fleet of Pandaw River Cruises. If you see a vessel matching this description and happen to be hanging around Indonesia, Malaysia or elsewhere in the area, there could be money in it for you.
Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
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