A Royal Australian Navy vessel Wednesday located a boat in distress south of Indonesia and was poised to help with a rescue if it became necessary, authorities said.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said between 130 and 180 people were believed to be on board the boat south of Java and northwest of Christmas Island.
The crew of HMAS Wollongong did not board because of weather conditions, but it was monitoring the boat's safety, the authority said in a statement.
It was not clear whether the occupants were asylum-seekers, among many who attempt the risky trip by boat to Australia each year.
The maritime authority did not immediately respond to messages left by CNN.
More than 200 people were pulled from the sea near Christmas Island, north of Australia, after two accidents last month.
There was no firm death total because authorities don't have an accurate count of how many people were on board.
Christmas Island is a remote territory northwest of the Australian mainland, close to Indonesia.
Several ships carrying people seeking asylum in Australia have run into trouble near the island in the past two years.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono this week discussed ways to combat the asylum problem.
Gillard pledged Australia will help Indonesia increase its ability to communicate with merchant ships "during safety of life at sea incidents."
The Australian Senate recently rejected a bill that would have revived plans to process asylum-seekers in offshore detention centers. Read more on the Senate vote
The bill's defeat leaves the country without an effective response to attempts by asylum seekers to enter the country.
The dilemma of what to do with thousands of asylum seekers who attempt the trip each year has long divided Australia's political parties, and its people.