Ferry owner wants to be cleared of responsibility in Cebu collision

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Shipping firm 2Go is asking the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to relieve it any responsibility in the sinking of its ferry St. Thomas Aquinas last August 16 that killed at least 116 people.

In a petition, 2GO lawyer Denise Luis Cabanos said the incident should be blamed on Philippine Span Asia Carrier Inc., the former Sulpicio Lines, and owner of the cargo ship Sulpicio Express Siete, and the ship’s crew.

On Friday Marina started its inquiry into the collision between St. Thomas Aquinas and Sulpicio Express Siete, as well as on the cancellation of the franchise of Philippine Span Asia Corp.

“The collision would not have occurred if not for the gross negligence of the Owners, officers and crewmembers of Sulpicio Express Siete,” 2GO said.


“It said the ferry “was travelling at a safe speed with due regard to the prevailing circumstances. In fact, there were other vessel/s navigating in the area with greater speed.”

Initial reports said the captain of Sulpicio Express Siete took the lane of the outgoing vessels from the Cebu City port, resulting in the collision. The cargo ship’s captain denied it was on the wrong lane.

The Sulpicio Express Siete would have not have been in the inbound lane (supposedly the wrong lane) if the harbor pilot had boarded and guided the vessel on its way out of Cebu Port, the captain said.

Reports also said the captain of another ship, the MV Trans-Asia 9, was requested by Sulpicio Express Siete to switch its radio from Channel 16 to Channel 12 during their conversation.

The cargo ship was not responding to the call of MV Ocean Jet in Channel 16 when the Ocean Jet passed in between the Sulpicio Express Siete and MV Trans-Asia 9.

The Sulpicio Express Siete did not go back to Channel 16 after their conversation and might have missed or failed to acknowledge the call of the St. Thomas Aquinas when the ferry was calling it on Channel 16.

The harbor pilot alleged that he heard the call of the captain of the St. Thomas Aquinas on Channel 16. Channel 16 is a distress, safety and calling frequency based on radio regulations.

Sulpicio Lines has been involved in at least 46 maritime, including the sinking of the M/V Doña Paz in 1987.

The Doña Paz tragedy remains as the world’s worst maritime disaster with more than 4,200 passengers killed.

FRANCIS EARL A. CUETO

 

 

 

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