Grounded ship still fit to sail, Marina says

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/23 November) — The ship that ran aground in Surigao City last Tuesday is still seaworthy and will be allowed to operate, local maritime authorities said.

This after an investigation determined that the ship, M/V Filipinas Dapitan of Cokaliong Shipping Lines, only incurred minor damage on its bow after it ran aground off the city’s main seaport, said Engr. Charlito D. Bacang, officer-in-charge of the Marina Regional Office.

“After conducting a thorough investigation, we can say the ship had not lost its seaworthiness,” Bacang said.

Marina’s decision, he said, was based on the findings of the Cebu City-based Universal Diving Services that conducted a bottom haul inspection of the vessel.

The 1,056-ton ship left Cebu last Monday at 7 p.m. and was expected to arrive at 6 a.m. Tuesday here. But it accidentally ran aground when it was about to dock due to shallow waters.

Cokaliong Shipping Lines Surigao Branch Manager Antonio Espina said there were 363 passengers, and all of them were safe and sound after the incident.

Passengers were stranded for about an hour on the ship until two tugboats from Philippine Coast Guard transported them to land.

The same tugboats tried to pull the ship several times onto the docking area to no avail.

Ship Captain Artemio M. Pretila said that low tide and strong wind had caused the ship to run aground.

“I have done all necessary actions to avoid further damage to the vessel,” said Pretila in his marine protest filed before the office of Marina and the Philippine Coast Guard.

Surigao Port has a shallow portion located about 100 meters from the docking area.

The absence of buoys or warning devices poses a navigational hazard to any vessel especially when the tide is low, Bacang said.

According to marine authorities, several ships had experienced a mishap at the same location years back, including the M/V Filipina Princess of Sulpicio Lines Inc. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)