MV Princess of the Stars Disaster: Ship Owner Not Aware of the Latest Guidelines of Philippine Coast Guard

by OldSailor on June 25, 2008

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The MV Princess of the Stars disaster brings out certain shocking and surprising information:

  • Sulpicio Lines Inc, the ship owner of MV Princess of the Stars is not aware of the latest guidelines of Philippine Coast Guard regarding the responsibility to sail ships in inclement weather.
  • Philippine Coast Guard is not having operational Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

Read on to know more……….

MV Princess of the Stars, a ferry with more than 800 personnel unfortunately capsized on June 21 in Philippines. Philippines has got a vast coast line of 36,289 km with 7,107 islands and depends largely on sea transports. The ship owner, Sulpicio Lines Inc is a leading sea transport provider for over twenty years all over the Philippine islands with a fleet of 16 passenger/ cargo vessels, 16 cargo and container vessels, 3 tugboats and 5 barges – a total tonnage of over 127,100.

Some of the features of MV Princess of the Stars:

  • 24 year old, 23,824-tonne ferry MV Princess of the Stars had a total passenger capacity of 1,992 personnel.
  • The ferry sailed out with 800 plus personnel including children on June 20, on 22 hour journey from Manila to Cebu.
  • The ferry sailed out, when whole of Philippines was under the threat of typhoon Frank (international codename Fengshen) from June 19.
  • In fact the ferry was sailing towards or crossing typhoon Frank (you can see the map below).
  • It is reported that the ferry had engine failure and ran aground. The ferry then capsized on June 21, off Sibuyan island.
  • Captain Florencio Marimon, the captain of MV Princess of the Stars is the most senior and most experienced captain in Sulpicio Lines Inc. The captain of the ship is still missing.
  • Ships of Sulpicio Lines Inc are having a bad track record of accidents in the past.
  • More than 100 divers from Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) , Philippine Navy (PN), US Navy are actively involved in rescue operations.
  • Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) is conducting the investigations about the accident. The station commander of the Philippine Coast Guard in Manila was relieved of his duties to facilitate investigations.
  • The ship owner says that the ferry sailed out with coast guards approval whereas coast guard says that it is ship owners responsibility to decide to sail the ship in inclement weather.
  • Philippine Coast Guard is not having an operational Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

Here are some photographs of MV Princess of the Stars.

Here is the map showing ships positions and typhoon locations:

mv_princess_of_stars_2

Here are the press releases from the ship owner Sulpicio Lines Inc.

Here is a video clip of rescue operations of MV Princess of the Stars.

Here are some related posts.

10 Reasons: Why the captain of a ship prefers to sink with the ship ?

10 Easy ways to sink a ship

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS): An outline

Update: June 27

Muro-ami divers of Philippines using improvised air compressors were trying to enter the capsized ferry to loot, despite the presence of rescue vessels around. Read more from ABS-CBN News.

Also it is now exposed that the capsized ferry illegally carried about 10,000 metric tons of super-toxic pesticide, Endosulfan, in the hold of the ill-fated MV Princess of Stars. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: June 28

Because of the presence of toxic Endosulfan in the capsized ferry, the rescue divers are to be medically examined. Read more from GMA News TV.

The ship owner of the capsized MV Princess of the Stars says that he would sue the country’s weather agency for not giving timely information about the typhoon. Strange! Read more from Thaindian News.

Update: July 01

Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) of Philippines find seven other passenger vessels of Sulpicio Lines Inc. defective. The ship owners deny. Here is the findings of Marina and here is the denial of ship owner.

Also here is a report that says captain of the ferry Florencio Marimon Sr may be alive but hiding to face legal actions.

Update: July 02

Refloating the ferry will speed up recovery of dead bodies but it is risky and expensive to refloat. Read more from GMA News TV.

Also US vessels will not be involved in refloating operations. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: July 05

Hereafter all types of sea going vessels will not be permitted to sail during a storm signal 1 or higher warning, according to a directive issued by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). Read more from GMA News TV.

Also Sulpicio Lines, Inc. denied allegations that M/V Princess of the Stars’ captain Florencio Marimon is in hiding. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: July 09

Sulpicio Lines Inc. gets 90 days deadline to complete the retrieval of bodies from the capsized ship, as well as the bunker fuel in the ship and the endosulfan shipment. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: July 10

A joint European Union-United Nations expert team is being deployed to the Philippines to assess the situation of a capsized ferry containing large quantities of highly toxic chemicals. Read more from UNEP.

Also number of seamen who survived the MV Princess of the Stars tragedy are set to appear on July 11 before the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) to give their views. The BMI is expected to submit their report by July 16. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: July 15

The ship owner Sulpicio Lines Inc has identified Titan Salvage to remove the toxic pesticides from the capsized ferry. Read more from GMA News TV.

But the ship owner has not yet decided to refloat the vessel. The DOTC has given the Sulpicio Lines until 12:01 on July 15 to name the company to re-float the capsized vessel. Read more from GMA News TV.

Meanwhile more dead bodies were recovered in two Bicol provinces. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: July 16

Toxic cargo OCHA Situation Report No 1 of MV Princess of the Stars is here at Relief Web.

Update: July 17

Sulpicio Lines Inc., laid off 136 regular officers and crew members of at least eight passenger vessels on July 16. Read more from Sun Star.

Also Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) to conduct hearing in Cebu on July 18 and 19. Read more from Sun Star.

Further, total body count of the tragedy increases to 259. Read more from Sun Star.

Update: July 18

IMO sends Paul Glerum, a Dutch salvage master with more than 30 years’ salvage experience to guide salvage operations of the capsized ferry. Read more from Sustainable Shipping.

Update: July 19

Toxic Endosulfan in the capsized ferry may leak any time. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: July 20

The Philippine Coast Guard is planning to recover P15-million spent on rescue operations from the owner of the capsized MV Princess of the Stars. Read more from GMA News TV.

Also 76 bodies believed to be from the capsized MV Princess of the Stars were exhumed and loaded on a ship to be taken to Cebu province for possible identification. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: July 28

Removal of toxic pesticides and fuel from capsized ferry would take six weeks to commence. Read more from Sustainable Shipping.

Update: August 01

The Philippine Coast Guard’s efforts to retrieve bodies and toxic cargo from the MV “Princess of the Stars” received a major boost from the Chinese government. Read more from GMA News TV.

Also more families of the victims file civil suits on vessel owner Sulpicio Lines, Inc. Read more from GMA News TV.

Further, Australia advised its nationals to avoid taking ferries in Philippines as they are unsafe. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: August 06

Capt. Florencio Marimon Jr of the capsized ferry, erred when he decided to push through with the voyage in the face of a 150 kph wind force. Read more from GMA News TV.

Also the report of the joint United Nations/European Union expert team deployed on July 10 to assess the situation of the ‘Princess of the Stars’ ferry which contained highly toxic chemicals – was presented on August 01 to Philippines authorities. Read more from UNEP.

Update: August 27

The Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) on August 26 recommended the suspension of Sulpicio Lines Inc.’s certificate of public convenience (CPC) franchise by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) in connection with the sinking of MV Princess of the Stars last June. Read more from GMA News TV.

Also BMI has given all parties involved in the capsizing of MV Princess of the Stars one month to appeal the findings of its investigation. Read more from GMA News TV.

Further, Maritime Industry Authority(Marina) has said they would adopt as “input” BMI’s findings and it would come up with its own decision as early as next week. Read more from GMA News TV.

Interestingly, Senator Pia S. Cayetano has welcomed the findings of the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) which found Sulpicio Lines Inc. “administratively liable” for the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars. But Cayetano also gave a stern warning to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to ensure the strict implementation of BMI’s recommendation suspending Sulpicio’s certificate of public convenience (CPC) franchise. She noted that Marina had earlier cleared two Sulpicio passenger ships to resume operations. Read more from Senate of the Philippines.

Also, the Department of Justice (DOJ) will form a panel of prosecutors to study the possibility of filing criminal and civil charges against the officers of Sulpicio Lines. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: August 28

Sulpicio Lines plans to file appeal against BMI’s recommendation to suspend certificate of public convenience (CPC) franchise. Read more from Sun Star.

The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) panel will end its probe next week on the possible cancellation of the shipowner’s franchise. Read more from GMA News TV.

The salvage operations of MV Princess of the Stars are set to start on August 29 after more than two months of the tragedy. Read more from GMA News TV.

Update: September 05

The salvage operations of MV Princess of the Stars could not start as scheduled on August 29 as the equipment for salvage operations have not reached from Singapore due to bad weather. The salvage is expected to start on September 11. Read more from GMA News TV – here and here.

Meanwhile, the chief of Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Mr. Vicente T. Suazo, Jr., has quit the office with effect from August 31 on personal grounds. Transportation Undersecretary for maritime affairs Ma. Elena H. Bautista has assumed post as officer-in-charge of Marina.

However, the investigation of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) on the capsizing of the M/V Princess of the Stars will remain unaffected by the resignation of administrator Vicente Suazo Jr. Read more from GMA News TV – here, here.

As further setback to Sulpicio Line,  their MV Cotabato Princess ran aground on September 04, at the Iloilo port and damaged at least 16 piles and a crane boom. Read more from GMA News – here and here.

Update: October 04

The salvage operations to retrieve toxic cargo endosulfan has finally started. Titan Salvage carried out survey dives of the capsized vessel on September 24. The salvage firm has cut a hole into the ship’s cargo hold and has started constructing a pier near the camp site to reduce travel time to wreck site.

The cargo being removed are:

  • about 400 packs of endosulfan each pack weighing 25 kilograms (kg).
  • about 250,000 litres of special fuel oil.

By October 03, over 100 packs of endosulfan were removed from the vessel. Removal of toxic chemicals is expected to finish by second week of October. Also removal of bodies trapped inside the ill-fated ferry is expected to start on October 24.

Meanwhile, a foreign diver of the salvage team of the capsized MV Princess of the Stars was hospitalized after showing symptoms of cyanide poisoning. Court has ruled that retrieved toxic cargo from the sunken vessel be turned over to the government, not to the owners of the sunken vessel or cargo. Read more from GMA News – [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6] and [7]

Update: October 05

As removal of 75 percent of endosulfan is over, the Coast Guard expects salvage work on the MV Princess of the Stars may complete by October 19, one week earlier than planned. Read more from GMA News.

Update: October 06

The salvage team has removed the entire 402 packs of toxic chemical endosulfan from the capsized vessel by afternoon on October 05. The next phase will involve the removal of other toxic chemicals and after that the bunker fuel. Removal of bunker fuel has to be done very carefully as it will affect the ship’s stability. Read more from GMA News.

Update: October 14

Salvage crews are presently siphoning off bunker fuel from the capsized ship and is expected to complete the job by October 24. Also the task force overseeing efforts to address the MV Princess of the Stars tragedy is planning to hold a Mass near ground zero to mark the start of the retrieval of passengers’ remains from the ship. Read more from GMA News.

Update: October 15

As on October 14, salvage crews had recovered 148 metric tons of bunker fuel from the capsized vessel. The Coast Guard expects to start retrieving passengers’ bodies by October 17. Also despite the relatively fast salvage work on the capsized MV Princess of the Stars, relatives of the tragedy’s victims remain restless and still expect a long ordeal ahead. Read more from GMA News.

Further, a Manila regional trial court (RTC) dismissed on October 14, for lack of merit the civil case for damages filed by Sulpicio Lines Inc. (SLI) and its senior first vice president Edgar S. Go against the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGSA) and its two officials for reportedly giving wrong forecasting that prompted the M/V Princess of the Stars to sail into the eye of the typhoon and subsequently capsized on June 21 off Romblon. Read more from Balita Pinoy.

Update: October 16

Removal of bunker fuel from the capsized vessel is complete and the total quantity of fuel removed is about 178,000 litres of crude. Removed fuel will be handed over to Philippine Coast Guard. Read more from GMA News here and here.

Next activity will be to remove passengers bodies after positioning the necessary equipment. Meanwhile, relatives of the MV Princess of the Stars victims are heading for “ground zero” to witness the retrieval of remains of trapped passengers which is expected to commence on October 17. Read more from GMA News.

Update: October 22

Removal of bodies from the capsized vessel was delayed as the ship owner failed to certify that the retrieval of endosulfan and toxic chemicals had been completed. Now as the certificate is submitted, removal activity is expected to commence after assessing the stability of the vessel. Read more from GMA News.

Update: October 23

It is interesting to note that, the ship owner of capsized vessel, Sulpicio Lines Inc. has asked the Manila regional trial court to reverse its earlier decision dismissing the damage suit filed against Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

The ship owner has blamed Pagasa’s alleged erroneous weather reports for the capsizing of MV Princess of the Stars during the onslaught of typhoon “Frank” in last June. Read more from GMA News.

Update: October 24

Coast Guard divers are expected to commence on October 26, retrieval of the remains of passengers still trapped inside the capsized MV Princess of the Stars. Read more from GMA News.

Update: October 27

Retrieval of the remains of passengers has started on 0ctober 26. Some 16 divers of Harbor Star wearing camera-equipped helmets are on the job and is expected to complete in two weeks. Divers are planning to retrieve 15 to 20 remains a day.

The remains of 12 victims were removed on October 26. The bodies were no longer recognizable when recovered as they were bloated. Read more from GMA News here and here.

Update: October 29

As on October 28, the total number of bodies recovered were 40. As more than three fourth area has been searched, the divers may not find 500 bodies as expected. It is now established that most of the passengers and the crew have jumped out of the ship when the vessel capsized. Read more from GMA News.

Update: October 31

A marker made of marble, will be put up near the site of the capsized MV Princess of the Stars by December, to remember those who died in the tragedy. Read more from GMA News.

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