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Marina wraps up probe on Yellow Submarine

Findings may help crafting new regulations for submersible watercraft
By: - Correspondent / @mendozanorms
/ 06:31 AM May 25, 2013

INVESTIGATORS of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) were in Cebu this week to look into the Yellow Submarine, which was videotaped hitting a wall of corals in the municipal waters of Lapu-Lapu City in April.

Two investigators from Manila, Romeo Banguis and John Guardaya, started their inquiry last May 21.

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They didn’t disclose their findings.

They were sent by Nicasio Conti, acting Marina administrator, who issued a special order for their travel.

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Andy Berame of the Task Force Kalikasan (TFK), representing the Lapu-Lapu City government, sat in a meeting with the Marina Manila representatives.

He said the two probers will submit their initial findings to the central office in Manila.

Berame said this may be input to craft guidelines since the tourist submarine was the first submersible seacraft operating commercially in the country.

Marina policies refer only to surface water vessels for safety standards and seaworthiness.

He said it may take time for Marina to come up with guidelines because trial periods would be required.

A cease-and-desist order against the Korean-owned company was issued last April 26 by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza and is still in effect.

The Marina special order said Conti had a directive as well to issue a cease-and-desist order from operating the submarine “until such time that cause of the incident has been fully ascertained.”

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However, no separate Marina order was issued, according to Berame, since the Lapu-Lapu freeze order was already there.

Marina investigators also asked to get a copy of the underwater assessment of the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF), which was tapped by the mayor’s office.

Jun Kim, manager of the Yellow Submarine comany, in a May 9 letter to the mayor apologized for the controversy.

He said “We are taking ful responsibility and are willing to attend to the damages that may be established to have been caused by the submarine to the corals.”

Angela Emphasis, public relations officer of the company, declined to comment on the Marina investigation.

In an earlier interview she said the company had incurred losses since the submarine was grounded on April 26.

Based on an average of five trips per day with 48 passengers, the losses already reached P8 million.

A personal video taken last April 18 by Japanese diver Satoshi Toyoda showed the Yellow Submarine hitting a wall of corals in Kontiki Drop .

The video posted on YouTube caused a furor and led to the mayor suspended the business permit of the Yellow Submarine company pending investigation.

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