Jumbo Kingdom, a historic Hong Kong boat restaurant that had been host to everyone from Queen Elizabeth and Jimmy Carter to Tom Cruise and Bruce Lee, sank in the sea after being tugged out of port. “The water depth at the scene is over 1,000 meters [3,300 feet], making it extremely difficult to carry out salvage works," read the initial statement by the company that owns it. The restaurant was gone for good.
Or so we thought.
See, that’s pretty much what the report from Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Limited said when the incident happened last Monday. But when pressed by maritime authorities on Thursday to give a complete detailed report of the incident’s circumstances, the company appeared to walk back those previous statements and said that the restaurant and an accompanying tugboat were still in the waters near the Paracel, or Xisha, Islands.
So now, Hong Kong lawmakers are calling for a government investigation to figure out what happened, saying that it was important to know if there had been any sort of malpractice when the boat was towed away.
In all fairness, the boat was 50 years old and needed repairs. But no one had stepped in to pay for the repairs, and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had said previously that the government wasn’t going to either. So, it was likely uninsured, too, with Andrew Brooker, managing director of Hong Kong-based marine insurance firm Latitude Brokers, saying it was “incredibly unlikely" the boat was insured for damage or loss.
“The marine insurance market does not like [to carry the risk of] 50-year-old barges being towed across 1,000 kilometers of open ocean in typhoon season," he said.