Marina checks on safety of ships cruising Lawis Ledge
The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) has started conducting investigation to determine the cause of the deadly collission of passenger vessel MV St Thomas Aquinas and cargo vessel MV Sulpicio Express 7 in the narrow entrance of the Mactan Channel known as Lawis Ledge last August 16.
Arnie Santiago, Enforcement Office head of Marina said their investigation may help draft measures that could ensure safety in the busy sea lane leading to one of the busiest sea ports in the country, the port of Cebu City.
There may be necessary improvements to be made on the external factors such as the Lighthouse at Lawis Ledge and the installation of a Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS).
He said that there should be a survey to check the height of the lighthouse. Santiago said that the lighthouse should be of the same height of the vessels passing by to provide the appropriate light to vessels.
The VTMS is a network for control and management of maritime traffic, monitoring the marine environment, support to rescue operations at sea.
Cause of sinking
Santiago said the impact area of MV St. Thomas Aquinas from Sulpicio Express Siete is five meters wide, near the car deck. The bulbous bow or the protruding bulb at the bow of a ship just below the waterline also penetrated the engine room.
"It was hit in the car deck area, resulting in a gaping hole. Another hole was seen at the engine room of the ship which was hit by the bulbous bank of the cargo vessel which caused the water to enter the ship," Santiago said.
He explained that when the entrance of water inside the ship "affected the stability of the vessel causing the passenger to list on her port side (left).
"The vessel had zero stability, resulting in its fast sinking," Santiago said.
He said it would be part of the investigation to determine if both vessels who were in a meeting situation applied the requirement of collision regulation while on their proper lookout.
"What happened was like a crossing situation. We will determine the vessel's position and intention. Is it to go inside the pier way or cross the vessel to have a safe passage?," Santiago said.
He also added that they would also determine if both captains communicated with each other prior to the incident.
The Special Board of Marine Inquiry has yet to be convened by the Philippine Coast Guard, although 2Go Travel, owner of MV St. Thomas Aquinas and the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation (Psacc) have already filed their respective marine protests.