NO OIL LEAK. Personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard rescue the 12 crew members of cargo vessel LCT Bato Twin that sank off the waters of Sambiray Caticlan Anchorage on Sunday (Nov. 4, 2018). (Photo by PCG Western Visayas)
ILOILO CITY -- An underwater operation is still going on to ensure that there will be no fuel leakage from the cargo vessel LCT Bato Twin that sank off the waters of Sambiray Caticlan Anchorage in Malay, Aklan Sunday morning.
In an interview Monday, Lt. Commander Ramil Palabrica, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard in Western Visayas (PCG-6), said eight divers from their special operations group (SOG) were deployed to seal possible leaking valves found from the vessel, which sank 30 feet below sea level.
Palabrica said that the vessel has 80 liters of diesel in its fuel tank.
“Their underwater operations still continue to ensure that it will not lead to oil spill. So far, there was no leakage found but we are continuously monitoring together with the marine and environmental protection unit and we have also standby oil spill booms in the area to see to it that the oil spill will not spread if ever we will encounter it,” he said.
According to Palabrica, the 120 gross tonnage vessel has just departed from the Sambiray Anchorage in Caticlan and supposedly bound for Manoc-Manoc Cargo in Boracay Island to deliver some sand and gravel when it encountered big waves along the shore and water started to enter the vessel, causing the sand and gravel to become heavier.
Some crew members tried to pump-out the water but to no avail.
It was around 10 a.m. when the Coast Guard Station (CGS) Aklan received a call from one of the crew, asking for a rescue as they have decided to abandon their vessel because it was continuously sinking.
Joint rescue teams, composed of personnel from CGS Aklan, Coast Guard Sub-Station Boracay and Special Operations Force responded to the incident and successfully rescued the 12 crew members.
PCG's Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB), speed boat and its fast patrol boat also augmented the rescue operations.
The victims were immediately brought to Malay Municipal Hospital for medical attention. All of them were in good physical condition and were already sent home.
Aside from the underwater operations, Palabrica said that a Maritime Casualty Investigation is also being conducted led by Lt. Commander Joe Luviz Mercurio to establish the cause of the incident.
Palabrica said that they are now planning on how to remove the vessel. He said that a salvage company may be hired to refloat the vessel, so it will not cause any hazard to the navigation of other vessels.
As of this moment, Palabrica said that they have put-up a coy marker at the area where the vessel sank and a standby Coast Guard boat to warn other vessels not to pass by at the area.
It can be recalled that around 142 passengers were rescued by Coast Guard last October 22 after passenger-cargo vessel MV Super Shuttle Ferry 18 encountered engine trouble also near the Caticlan Anchorage.
Palabrica assured that all Coast Guard personnel are always ‘on alert’ to immediately respond to any untoward incident.
He added that they are also strengthening their information dissemination among the boat operators if there are big waves that they may encounter along the shore, so they will be warned and adjust the schedule of their travel. (PNA)