Probe into Talisay ship collision winds up-A A +A
Monday, September 9, 2013
THE Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) is now consolidating evidences and testimonies in its investigation on the collision of m/v Sulpicio Express Siete and m/v St. Thomas Aquinas last month.
Arnie Santiago, director of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) enforcement office, said the SBMI chaired by Commodore Gilbert Rueras of the Philippine Coast Guard is analyzing the testimonies to determine who are lying and who are telling the truth.
This, as salvage tug Trabajador 1 arrived last Saturday at the Mactan channel to siphon the oil left inside the sunken MV St. Thomas de Aquinas.
Operated under the supervision of Nippon Salvage and Malayan Towage firms, Trabajador 1 carried special equipment from Japan that included work barge ‘Maria Bnr Delia 1’ that carries 12 oil recovery tanks. Each tank can accommodate 16 kilo liters of oil.
It is also fitted with special diving equipment to enable divers to stay 50 meters underwater longer. M/v St. Thomas Aquinas lies some 50 meters underwater at the seabed on its port side.
After the arrival of the equipment, the salvage crew started preparations for the siphoning operation.
Preparation includes securing the salvage tug with two anchors. Divers will then tie
the salvage tug to the sunken vessel with two nylon hawsers.
Cebu Coast Guard Commander Weniel Azcuna said the siphoning will start today.
He said the operation will ran for 12 days depending on how much fuel is left inside the vessel.
Yesterday, a team of divers went to the site and checked their siphoning equipment.
The Malayan Towage and Nippon Salvage Team with around ten divers, composed of Japanese and Filipino divers, will lead the siphoning.
He said that today, the divers will go into the sunken ship and drill holes on the vessel’s tank to connect a pump which will drain the oil.
A barge will be on stand-by nearby to carry the fuel.
“Although we have no timeframe, we will come up with the report as soon as possible,” Santiago said.
The masters of Sulpicio Express of Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (PSACC) and St. Thomas Aquinas of the 2Go Group and crew members have given their testimonies.
Santiago said that unlike the administrative investigation being conducted by Marina, the result of the SBMI investigation, which will be forwarded to the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI), is recommendatory in nature with no punitive action.
For example, if the SBMI will recommend that the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) shall install “boya” as a demarcation line between inbound and outbound lanes, and the recommendation will be approved by the BMI chaired by the PCG commandant, a copy of the report will be furnished to CPA.
In an earlier interview, Rueras said that although their report will only be recommendatory, the parties to the case (2Go and Sulpicio) may use it file charges for damages against each other, or for survivors and families of the fatalities to file damage claims against the two shipping lines.
The SBMI, composed of Rueras (as chair) and Santiago (for Marina), Chief Mariner Nestor Perrero and Chief Engineer Waultrudth Tanamor, has wrapped up its hearings last week when there were no more witnesses.
Santiago said SBMI will submit the results of its investigation to the BMI, which will review it. If new evidence will come up during the review, the BMI will send the report back to SBMI for consolidation.
If there is no new evidence, the BMI will approve the report and submit it to Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Antonio Abaya.
A copy will also be sent to Marina Administrator Maximo Mejia Jr.
If DOTC will approve the report, copies will be furnished to all the government agencies concerned for the implementation of recommendations. (PR)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 09, 2013.