Preventing collisions-A A +A
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
THE recent collision involving two ships off the Cebu South Channel Fairway only calls for an urgent need to carry out the following:
--Establish a VTIS (Vessel Traffic Information System);
--Pilot boarding should be compulsory;
--Install a VDR (Video Data Recorder) aboard the ship.
For the sake of clarity, allow me to emphasize in specific manner the suggestions mentioned above.
First, let us focus on the VTIS (Vessel Traffic Information System).
Unlike Malacca Strait, Singapore Strait and the English Channel between England and France to name only a few, Cebu Channel is not as busy and congested with regard to vessel traffic.
But on account of the recent collision incident involving two vessels, it is but proper to have a vessel traffic control system to ensure safe passage of ship and transport of passengers and to avoid serious damage to the marine environment.
VTIS controls and monitors all the movements of outgoing and incoming vessels, ensuring that each of them is following the right lane when transiting the channel fairway.
With VTIS in place, pilots and/or masters in command of the vessels are being guided, advised and assisted in executing the best decision for the safe passage of vessels in the channel.
On the compulsory boarding of pilots, as far as I know (I can be corrected on this) this is compulsory only for first time vessels that enter either of the two channels but not for vessels that navigate frequently on both channels and are well familiar with the sea passage going in and out of the port.
A classic example were the two vessels involved in the collision incident, namely, M/V St. Thomas Aquinas and M/V Sulpicio Express Siete, in which both masters were in
command during the vessels' transit.
Both vessels were known to be frequenting the port of Cebu and therefore as had been the usual practice, no pilots got on board for the passage.
In line with this, to prevent any re-occurrence of the incident in the future, it is my humble suggestion that all vessels, except for those with certain length and gross tonnage (to be determined by proper authority), be boarded by pilots prior to entering the channel fairway.
Preferably, this can be done in the suggested pilot boarding ground, to wit:
For the south channel entrance--pilot boarding to be carried out in the vicinity of Lauis Ledge Lighthouse off Talisay City waters (appropriate coordinates to be given by proper authority).
For the north channel entrance--pilot boarding to be carried out in the vicinity of Bagacay Point Lighthouse in Liloan, Cebu (appropriate coordinates to be given by proper authority).
Now to the fitting of VDR(Video Data Recorder).
If this is applicable to domestic vessels and subject to existing local maritime regulations, a VDR (Video Data Recorder) must be installed on board the ship for the purpose of recording, storing and gathering relevant data considered as useful reference and/or evidence in resolving maritime accident/incident.
For non-mariner readers, a VDR is equivalent to the black box recorder of an aircraft designed to be damage-proof and recovered after a crash incident.
I know for a fact that a lot of inter-island vessels are fitted with GPS (Global Positioning System) as well as automatic radar plotting aid (Arpa) to ensure safe, easy and convenient navigation of ship.
State-of-the-art communication equipment and other necessary ship's bridge equipment must have been fitted on these vessels.
In short, the fitting of VDR will surely not be a remote possibility as this is also an indispensable device on board the ship, and its stored information and data may be used as substantial evidence in the event of legal action.
Our government must set aside the needed funds to improve the safe operation of ships in our ports.
Concerned government maritime authority must do something before it's too late. We cannot afford to have another maritime incident to happen.
The time to act is NOW.—2nd Mate Joselito Berdin of Lapu-Lapu City
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 27, 2013.