Cruise ship stranded in GenSan removed

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/16 December) — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) successfully moved to deeper waters early Tuesday afternoon a Panamanian cruise ship that ran aground last Friday off the shores of this city.

Lt. Jay Tarriela, commander of the PCG station here, said they were able to remove the stranded MV Victory Pacific near the shores of Barangay Dadiangas West here after the tide in the area rose to its “highest level.”

He said they started the extraction of the 23,000-ton vessel at around 11:30 a.m. using two salvage boats of salvor firm Harbor Star Shipping Services Inc.

“It reached the designated anchorage area at 12:50 p.m.,” Tarriela said.

The vessel’s removal came a day earlier from its targeted extraction on Wednesday afternoon as set during a technical meeting called by the PCG on Monday.

Tarriela said they maintained a close watch on the vessel and the condition of the tide and eventually saw an opportunity to proceed with its extraction.

“When the tide rose, we noticed that the vessel also started to move. So we immediately made a move to extract it,” he said.

The official said they did not face any difficulty in moving the ship as they were aided by the strong winds.

Commodore George Ursabia, commander of PCG Southeastern Mindano, earlier said they decided during a technical meeting on Monday to start the salvage operations on Wednesday afternoon when the tide in the area was foreseen to be at its highest level.

The meeting was attended by city officials and representatives from salvor firm Harbor Star Shipping Services Inc., which was tapped by the PCG to lead the salvage operations.

Also present was the vessel’s Indian captain identified as Shezada Khan.

During the meeting, the official said the city government and other local stakeholders agreed to set their interventions on a phased basis.

“Phase one will be the extraction of the vessel, phase two will be the damage assessment and phase three will be the negotiations for compensation on the damages,” he said.

A PCG report said the cruise ship came from Mexico City in Mexico and was en route to Singapore when it ran out of bunker fuel last Friday.

The vessel, which was forced to use diesel fuel, ran aground while trying to reach the Makar port here to refuel.

MV Victory Pacific, which is manned by 21 Indian nationals, drifted towards the shores of Purok Silway San Juan of Barangay Dadiangas West, specifically near a community inhabited by informal settlers.

MV Victory Pacific, which is an ageing vessel, has no passengers on board during the incident.

The vessel listed India as its final destination and where it was reportedly scheduled for decommissioning. (MindaNews)