CEBU CITY, Philippines—The Maritime Industry Authority in Central Visayas (Marina-7) has suspended the safety certificate of MV Zamboanga Ferry after it ran aground at the port of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental after being battered by strong waves and winds on Thursday morning.
Jose Cabatingan, spokesperson of Marina-7, said the suspension will only be lifted after it passes the reinspection that will be conducted by Marina safety inspection team.
An official of Cebu-based George and Peter Lines, which owned MV Zamboanga Ferry, said the decision of Marina to suspend the safety certificate was standard operating procedure in the industry involving maritime incidents.
“Even without the Marina order, it is George and Peter Lines duty to the public to properly inspect the vessel and ensure it’s seaworthiness before resuming her trip and taking on any passengers,” said Georgia Felice Chiongbian-Rama, George and Peter vice president.
But she stressed that only the safety certificate of MV Zamboanga Ferry was suspended “because the official cause of the incident is force majeure- due to strong winds and big waves brought about by Typhoon Auring.”
George and Peter Lines, which has been in the industry for 50 years, has two other vessels–MV GP Ferry and MV Georich–which plies Cebu, Dumaguete, Dapitan and Zamboanga.
MV Zamboanga Ferry, a 850 gross tonnage roll on roll off vessel, was about to dock the Dumaguete port about 9 a.m. on Thursday when it was hammered by strong waves and winds spawned by a low pressure area that later developed into a tropical storm.
The vessel, which had 228 passengers and 14 crew members on board, eventually ran aground about 50 meters from the Rizal Boulevard.
Because of the strong waves, it took seven hours to bring all passengers to dry land board the life rafts.
Cabatingan said they had to receive a copy of marine protest from MV Zamboanga ship captain Roland Villarin.
Cabatingan said that the reinspection of the vessel would be conducted upon receipt of request for reinspection by the management of the ship involved.
In the meantime, Michael Mater, executive assistant of Philippine Port Authority-Port Management Office Dumaguete, said they had not considered closing down the port in Dumaguete City as suggested by some group of people.
They noted that since the port faces an open sea, it would be dangerous to sea vessels especially during bad weather.
Mate said that they would retain the port in Dumaguete but would open an alternative port that could be used during rough seas.
Mater said they were eyeing areas in southern part of Negros Oriental as a possible site for an alternative port.
In a report submitted by Annie Lee Manese, PMO Dumaguete port manager in Dumaguete, she said that several passenger vessels were advised to drop anchor in the seas rather than dock at the Dumaguete port.
Other tramping vessels that docked safely at the port earlier were also advised to go on anchorage and seek shelter in Bais Bay.