A massive refrigerated cargo ship believed to be loaded with slave-caught fish was seized by Indonesia’s navy and brought to shore Thursday, after The Associated Press informed authorities it had entered the country’s waters. The Thai-owned Silver Sea 2 was located late Wednesday and escorted about 80 miles (130 kilometers) to a naval base in Sabang on the Indonesian archipelago’s northwestern tip, said Col. Sujatmiko, the local naval chief.
The AP used a satellite beacon signal to trace its path from Papua New Guinea waters, where it was also being sought, into neighboring Indonesia. The navy then spent a week trying to catch it. The ship was close to leaving Indonesian waters by the time it was finally seized. “I’m so overwhelmed with happiness,” said Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, adding it was difficult to find because the boat’s signal had a delay. “It was almost impossible, but we did it.” The Silver Sea 2 is the same 2,285-ton vessel captured in a high-resolution satellite photo last month in Papua New Guinea showing its hold open and two fishing trawlers tethered to each side, loading fish. Analysts identified the smaller trawlers as among those that fled the remote Indonesian island village of Benjina earlier this year, crewed by enslaved men from poor Southeast Asian countries who are routinely beaten and forced to work nearly nonstop with little or no pay.