‘Ships should’ve seen each other’-A A +A
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
AFTER inspecting the vessel collision site in Lauis Ledge off Talisay City yesterday, the Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) said it was impossible for ships coming or leaving the Cebu City harbor not to see each other.
Commodore Gilbert Rueras, SBMI chairman, said the area is clear and wide that even Cebu City Hall, Port of Cebu, the Malacañang sa Sugbo and South Road Properties can be seen from Lauis Ledge.
The SBMI conducted the inspection amid cloudy skies and seas that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration described as “moderate to rough.”
Rueras said that only ship officers and crew know where nautical lanes are situated.
This is why he will recommend, among others, the installation of buoys to mark inbound and outbound vessel lanes at the Cebu channel to guide all vessels.
He said the SBMI may also urge the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the National Government to implement the Vessel Traffic Monitoring System installation project at the Cebu Channel.
During the SBMI investigation, witnesses from two other vessels said m/v Sulpicio Express Siete, which just left the Cebu port, was in the inbound lane at the Cebu Channel. The Sulpicio vessel collided with passenger ferry m/v St. Thomas Aquinas, which was entering the Cebu harbor, around 9 p.m. on Aug. 16.
Arnie Santiago, head of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) enforcement office, said he will propose that ships above 35 gross tons be required to have automatic identification system (AIS).
Santiago, also a member of the SBMI, said a ship with AIS can identify nearby vessels, their location and speed.
Passenger ferry m/v St. Thomas Aquinas had AIS but Sulpicio Express Siete is not equipped with one.
Yesterday, the fourth day in the SBMI investigation, Oceanjet 8 vessel master Vel Dumaguit testified that m/v Sulpicio Express Siete was traveling within the inbound lane, which was supposed to be the lane of m/v St. Thomas Aquinas.
The ship captain of mv Trans Asia 9 earlier said the same.
Dumaguit also said that he overheard m/v St. Thomas Aquinas contact Sulpicio Express Siete over the radio twice.
In the first communication, Dumaguit, said Aquinas requested for a port-to-port passage, which was granted by Sulpicio. In the second, Sulpicio did not anymore answer Aquinas.
Sulpicio reportedly left the common radio channel 16 to transfer to channel 12 to communicate with Trans Asia 9.
The SBMI also heard the testimonies of three Talisay fishermen: Noe Lastimado, 38, and Jayson Evangelio, 28, both of Pooc, Talisay City; and Dennis Reyes of Tangke, Talisay City.
The SBMI lauded the three men for rescuing survivors from the sea mishap.
Lastimado told the SBMI that he was fishing near the lighthouse and saw the collision.
He said he did not see lights from either vessel or heard horns to alert each other before the collision.
He said the passenger ferry sank, making a loud noise in the water.
Lastimado rescued four passengers and brought them to Talisay City.
Evangelio arrived after the collision. He rescued four persons and recovered the body of a man.
He said the Philippine Coast Guard gave him several like jackets and life crafts so that he can return to the site and help more passengers.
Reyes said he was bound for Cuaming, Bohol to buy fish when he learned about the incident about 2,500 meters from Lawis Ledge. He initially rescued 11 adults and two children.
Other members of the SBMI—Chief Mariner Nestor Ferrero, Chief Engineer Waultrudth Tanamor, Lt. Johnson Fabilane—also participated in the inspection.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 27, 2013.