Sabah and Labuan Maritime Region Director First Admiral Mohd Zubil Mat Som said the MMEA began the SAR operations at about 9pm after receiving a report on the matter.
"The operation so far involves MMEA assets KM Memmon and KM Berani, as well as KD PAUS of the Royal Malaysian Navy. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) has also requested for additional assets to carry out the operation," he said in a statement.
Mohd Zubil said according to information received from the complainant who is the owner of the fishing boat, the boat carrying three crew members and nine anglers which departed last Saturday, was scheduled to be back home at 2pm yesterday.
"However, according to the complainant, at 3.07pm on Sunday, he received a call from the boat's captain saying the 'gear box' had been damaged at a location 21 nautical miles northwest of Pulau Mantanani.
"The owner of the boat then directed other vessels to find the boat, however the efforts were unsuccessful, and attempts to contact them using a satellite phone also failed. As a result, the fishing boat owner lodged a police report and requested the assistance of the maritime department at 4.18pm," he said.
Mohd Zubil said the authorities faced difficulties in carrying out the SAR operation, as the report was made more than 24 hours from the time of the incident.
"All merchant ships passing through the waters have also been informed, and we hope the maritime community can also help in the operation," he said. — Bernama