Ship collision; human error?-A A +A
Sunday, August 18, 2013
ACCIDENTS are bound to happen. There are two kinds of accidents. One is natural tragedy, or calamity, which is caused by nature like typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruption and others. We cannot do anything about these disasters because these are caused by nature. Our lawmakers cannot pass laws that ban typhoons and other calamities that strike our country.
There are also man-made calamities, which are caused by human error and neglect like fire, plane crash and vehicular accidents, including ships collision. But these man-made calamities can be avoided if we are on our toes and lookout and make the necessary precautions. But please don’t blame God if tragedies happen.
The sea is too big and wide. But I cannot understand why two ships would collide like what happened last Friday night to mv St. Thomas Aquinas, a passenger vessel of 2Go shipping lines, and Sulpicio Express 7, a container vessel of the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (formerly Sulpicio Lines) at the Lawis ledge near the parola (lighthouse).
Mv St. Thomas Aquinas was about to dock at Pier 4 while Express 7 had just lifted its anchor at the Cebu pier and was bound for Davao City when the incident happened. Both ship captains claimed they were in the right path and direction.
Susmaryosep! If you were in your respective path and direction how come you collided?
If we compare that to a vehicular accident, we can describe it as a head-on collision.
Sus, pagkalapad ug pagkadako anang dagat, magbangga pa gyud mo? Abot man gani nang dagat sa Bohol.
The incident resulted to the death of 32 passengers (as of this writing) of 2Go vessel, which sank a few minutes after being hit by the cargo vessel. More than 700 passengers have been rescued while more than 80 persons are still missing and feared dead. As of yesterday, various rescue groups still scoured the site of the incident for possible survivors. Late in the afternoon, they already downgraded their operations to search and retrieval operation.
I don’t want to speculate. It would be unfair if we just point an accusing finger at one of the boat captains without first determining who was at fault. Both claim they were on the right path. Sulpicio Express 7 officers said they communicated with St. Thomas Aquinas but received no response. This claimed is being supported by officers of Trans Asia Shipping Lines whose vessel was in the vicinity. If this is true, can we toss the blame to the captain of St. Thomas Aquinas?
If I had my way, it would have been better if the Sulpicio vessel sank because there would have minimal loss of lives. I know their crew would have survived because they are trained to response to any disaster. I pity those elderly and children passengers of the 2Go vessel. The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) has suspended the entire fleet of the two shipping companies.
It’s another bad luck for Sulpicio. The company has the highest number of maritime disasters. Remember Doña Marilyn, Doña Paz, Princess of the Orient and Princess of the Universe? That is why the company was forced to change its name since Sulpicio was associated with disaster.
But did you know that most of the passengers of St. Thomas Aquinas came from Sulpicio’s mv Princess of the Earth, which was supposed to leave Nasipit in Agusan del Norte for Jagna, Bohol. But the ship encountered technical problem and was not able to leave. Some of the passengers transferred to 2Go, which left Friday noon, while others boarded mv Filipinas Butuan of Cokaliong Shipping Lines, which left Friday night.
Those who boarded Cokaliong arrived safely Saturday morning. Dimalas gyod kay ang nakabangga nila Sulpicio gihapon.
From what I gathered from maritime experts, Lawis Ledge has a shallow portion, especially during low tide. So the tendency is vessels compete with each other which one can maneuver first to the deep portion so they don’t hit the shallow portion.
Maybe that is the reason both captains claimed they were on the right path.
Well, I hope that this incident will be thoroughly investigated and those responsible punished. Let this incident serve as a lesson to all maritime industry stakeholders.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 19, 2013.