Two captains-A A +A
Friday, August 23, 2013
AS EXPECTED, the masters of the vessels, St. Thomas Aquinas and Sulpicio Express Siete, are pointing accusatory fingers at each other in their respective marine protests. If you ask me, they should both be in jail in the meantime.
Like many others, I can’t understand it. When two vehicles collide, resulting in death or physical injuries even to only one person, the police arrest both drivers and confiscate their license.
Here, 75 people have been confirmed dead with 45 more still missing and the ship captains are scot free?
But the captains and the crew are under custody, the Coast Guard says, by their ship owners. What is that, some sort of house arrest?
Holy cow, more than a 100 people are either dead or missing, the ecology has taken a severe beating and hundreds of fishermen and their families stand to lose their only means of livelihood because two vessels collided. In fine weather and with both captains claiming their vessels were in top shape!
If it had happened between two tartanillas, the drivers could at least claim that the horses were responsible. But between two vessels? In the sea? At least one, if not both, of them must have been negligent or incompetent.
In their marine protests, both ship captains admit that they altered their course immediately before the collision in order to avoid it. The problem was that they were turning towards the same direction!
Reynan Bermejo (Aquinas): While our vessel was turning to port, the outbound cargo vessel suddenly changed course to starboard.
Rolito Gilo (Sulpicio): Our vessel altered course to starboard while inbound vessel was still exhibiting red light, indicating port to port passage. Then inbound vessel “suddenly exhibited green light.”
Note that we’re talking about two meeting vessels. When the Aquinas turned to her left (port) and Sulpicio turned to her right (starboard) both were maneuvering towards the same direction.
The two captains also claimed that they tried to contact the other vessel: the Aquinas to call the attention of Sulpicio Siete that the latter was occupying her lane; and Sulpicio Siete to tell Aquinas to meet her port to port (left side to left side). Both captains claim that their calls got no response.
Bermejo: “Despite several attempts on our part to call her attention that she was not following the traffic separation scheme she did not alter course to vacate the inbound lane which created the risk of collision.”
Gilo: “I instructed to call the inbound vessel, stating for port to port passage in accordance with the Traffic Separation Scheme. There was no response from sighted inbound vessel. I instructed to call sighted inbound vessel again, and still there was no response.”
Again, holy cow, they’re telling us that they were ignored by the other even at a time when a risk of collision was already present! Unless they were using different radio frequencies, the only conclusion that you can draw after reading these claims is that one or both of them was consciously ignoring the other.
Who? We will not know until after an investigation. The Special Board of Marine Inquiry still has to be convened and it is not expected to make its findings until it has heard or seen all the evidence. That will take months at the earliest.
In the meantime, the bodies of the dead shall have been buried, the pagatpat in Cordova shall have wilted and food shall have become scarce in many Mactan island households. While the ship captains, who are accusing each other of causing all the above damage, remain free.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 23, 2013.