Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009,Ferry Baleno 9, Phillipines, 60 dead

The ferry now lies at the bottom of the ocean, 350 meters (1,148 feet) below the surface, beyond the reach of Coast Guard divers.

Senate told captain not certified!

MANILA, Philippines—The death toll from the sinking of the MV Baleno 9 on Dec. 26 off Verde Island could be much higher than first believed. Dozens of passengers reportedly had been left off the official manifest, according to the Coast Guard.

A total of 132 passengers supposedly boarded the ferry that sank off the Batangas island 37 minutes into its voyage, said Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee that conducted a hearing on the sea tragedy Tuesday.

Of the 132 passengers and crew aboard the roll-on, roll-off vessel, six died and 72 survived, Gordon said.

Fifty-four are missing based on the manifest and as reported by relatives.

The Senate blue ribbon committee also learned that the skipper of the Baleno 9 was not a certified ship captain but merely a “major patron.”

Capt. Jimmy Andal, who was earlier reported to have survived the sinking, is now listed as among the missing persons.

The committee also found that the ferry was designed to only ply inland waters and not the open sea. The ship sank in “open waters” between Batangas and Mindoro, maritime officials said at the committee hearing Tuesday.

Coast Guard Commandant Wilfredo Tamayo said Andal was not “a certified master mariner as he was only a major patron.”

A major patron is a ship officer “not schooled” but has had long maritime experience, according to Tamayo.

Red Cross monitoring

Gordon said he based the 132-figure on the monitoring that he and a Philippine National Red Cross team undertook at the ports of the cities of Batangas and Calapan as the survivors and the dead arrived there on Sunday.

The Baleno 9 sank at a little past 10 p.m. on its way to Batangas City from Calapan, Oriental Mindoro.

The ferry now lies at the bottom of the ocean, 350 meters (1,148 feet) below the surface, beyond the reach of Coast Guard divers.

The sinking of the Baleno 9 was the second sea tragedy in less than three days. On Christmas Eve, the wooden-hulled MV Catalyn B sank 3 nautical miles from Limbones Island at the mouth of Manila Bay after it smashed into a steel-hulled fishing boat.

Four bodies were recovered on the day of the sinking and 24 were reported missing. On Monday, a deep-sea diver saw at least 12 bodies inside the wreckage of the ferry. They have yet to be retrieved.


Gordon sought an explanation of the discrepancy in the figures of the Red Cross and the Coast Guard, which reported that the Baleno 9 had 75 passengers.

The Coast Guard had relied on the figures of an initial manifest and a supplemental manifest—something that a retired captain at the hearing said was “fraudulent.”

He and other officials said ships were required to submit manifests before departure and not after leaving port.

Tamayo told reporters that the Coast Guard had counted 123 people who boarded the ferry. He attributed the bigger number of passengers to “last-minute riders.”

“The latest report we got is there were 123 passengers—73 survivors, six casualties and 44 missing,” Tamayo said.

Gordon got irked when he confronted the Coast Guard with the two passenger manifests of the Baleno 9. He said that when he got to the Batangas port at 2 a.m. on Sunday, he learned from Coast Guard officials that there were 20 passengers on the ship.

An hour later a “supplemental manifest” was produced, showing there were 55 more passengers.

Asked to explain, Lt. Algiers Ricafrente, station commander of the Coast Guard in Calapan, said he got a copy of the supplemental manifest at 4 a.m. after the ship had already sunk.

The second manifest did not sit well with Capt. Robert Garcia, who represented Transportation Undersecretary Thompson Lantion at the hearing.

Fraudulent practice

Garcia said this was a “fraudulent practice” because the ship captain was supposed to submit the manifest under “maritime oath.”

The rules require that ships submit a passenger manifest before departure, said Elena Bautista, administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

This prompted Gordon to say that the second manifest apparently was meant to “clean up” things. The senator asked the Coast Guard to investigate the matter as it involved some sort of “falsification.”

Late buses

Ship owners tend to submit the manifest late because some buses come in late and plead that they be accommodated, according to Tamayo.

He underscored the need for a “cut-off time” for buses and passengers to board a ship.

The Baleno 9 left the Calapan port at 9:18 p.m. on Sunday and sank at 10:07 p.m., according to Tamayo.

Worldwide practice

Gordon questioned the competence of the ship’s captain.

“Did we put the lives of people [in the hands of] someone who was not a certified master mariner?” Gordon asked maritime officials.

Bautista said a major patron was allowed to man a 119-ton vessel such as the Baleno 9.

“It’s based on the gross tons of a ship and this is a worldwide practice,” Bautista said referring to the criteria by which a major patron could be allowed to man ships.

Capt. Nelson Ramirez of the United Filipino Seafarers backed Bautista, saying this had become the practice.

It was also learned that the Baleno 9 came from Japan but that it should only be operated in inland waters, prompting Gordon to say that he would “not allow my children to board vessels” of this type.

Bautista said almost all of the second-hand passenger ships or roll-on, roll-off vessels in the country came from Japan.

While the vessels are operational in inland waters, they are certified by authorities for sea voyage, said the Marina administrator.

Bautista said the proposed Maritime Act, which her office wants immediately passed by Congress, will seek to help companies build ships and design them in accordance with the country’s requirements and “with low interest financing by the government.”

Sunday, September 6, 2009

2009 SuperFerry 9, Phillipines, 10 dead

10 dead,900 people rescued as ferry sinks in southern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - A ferry carrying nearly 1,000 passengers sank in the southern Philippines early Sunday, leaving ten dead and more than 30 missing.

The Superferry 9 began to list before dawn about nine miles (15 kilometres) off Zamboanga del Norte province, rousing terrified passengers from their sleep and sending many jumping into the water, coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said.

Rescuers transferred 900 of 968 passengers and crewmen to two nearby commercial ships, a navy gunboat and a fishing boat, he said. Among them was Jeff Predchuz, 47, of Canada. A search was under way for 33 people who remained missing, Tamayo said.

Passenger Roger Cinciron told DZMM radio he felt the ferry tilting at about midnight but was assured by a crewman that everything was well. About two hours later, he was roused from sleep by the sound of crashing cargo below his cabin, he said.

"People began to panic because the ship was really tilting," he said as he waited for rescuers to save him and a group of more than 20 other passengers.

Reymark Belgira, another passenger, said many panicked as the huge ferry turned. He said he saw parents tossing children to people on life rafts below, but he could not immediately jump himself.

"I held on to the ferry for hours until day break. I couldn't jump into the water in the dark," he said.

Tilting at around 45 degrees from 3 a.m. Sunday, the ferry was gobbled up by the sea some eight hours later, according to the survivors’ account.

Survivors recounted that when they started the voyage, they felt “something wrong” with the vessel.

Luigi Domingo, a resident of General Santos City, said he and his fellow passengers on the economy deck noticed that the vessel was largely inclining to the right as it sailed on.
Rattling sounds
The marshal from the Maritime Police said there was still more cargo space available when the SuperFerry 9 left General Santos City.

Past 2 a.m. Sunday, Elsa Monsali said she was awakened by loud, rattling sounds below, referring to the cargo section. It was at this time that she said the ship experienced intense rocking.

Then suddenly, she felt the ship had tilted sharply.

Ganuhay said he was jolted awake when he was thrown down from his upper bunk in the tourist accommodation.

As he rushed out, he saw water already flowing in.

To help out passengers get to the left side of the vessel, the ship’s crew used ropes and also distributed life jackets to passengers.

The deck’s doorway was jammed with people also wanting to escape.

Domingo said he texted his mother in General Santos City to “pray for me.” He told her the ship “would probably go down in the water.”

He said that when his mother called him around 4 a.m., he was already positioned at the railing and hearing orders from sea marshals for people to get ready to abandon the ship “per advice of the captain.”

Survivors said they saw people jumping into the waters while they screamed.

Domingo, who was among the first to jump, said that not many followed “probably because they were fearful about the cold and darkness below.”

This might explain why several life rafts drifted away empty. Some people “floated with the currents” with only their life jackets

Navy ships were deployed and three military aircraft scoured the seas, Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said. American troops providing counterterrorism training to Philippine soldiers in the region deployed a civilian helicopter and five boats, some carrying paramedics, to help, U.S. Col. William Coultrup said.

Teodoro said two men and a child drowned during the scramble to escape the ship. The bodies of two other passengers were later plucked from the sea by fishermen, the coast guard said, adding three people were injured.
Chelona Pabit, from Agusan, said that as they left port on Saturday morning, the boat began to tilt.

“I noticed when the boat was slowly turning around away from the wharf, it tilted a bit. When the boat leaned to the other end, I heard a strong sound coming from downstairs. Everyone ignored the sound, but we all noticed the boat was tilting,” Pabit said.

For more than 12 hours, the “tilted” ship sailed, Pabit said.

At around 11 p.m., Pabit saw crewmen running down to where the cargoes were located.

“Again I heard another strong sound and I guess a kind of (container) van fell off. I asked the crew what was wrong and they told me there was nothing to worry about as it was just strong waves and strong winds,” Pabit said.

The cause of the listing was not clear. The ferry skipper initially ordered everyone on board to abandon ship as a precautionary step, said Jess Supan, vice-president of Aboitiz Transport System, which owns the steel-hulled ferry.

There were reports the 7,268-ton vessel listed to the right because of a hole in the hull, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.

Aerial photos from the navy showed survivors holding on to anything as the ferry tilted. Others climbed down a ladder on the side as a lone orange life raft waited below.

The ferry left the southern port city of General Santos on Saturday and was scheduled to arrive in Iloilo city in the central Philippines later Sunday but ran into problems midway.

There were no signs of possible terrorism.

Al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants bombed another Superferry in Manila Bay in 2004, setting off an inferno that killed 116 people in Southeast Asia's second-worst terrorist attack.

The weather was generally fair in the Zamboanga peninsula region, about 530 miles (860 kilometres) south of Manila, although a tropical storm was battering the country's mountainous north, the coast guard said.

Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

Last year, a ferry overturned after sailing toward a powerful typhoon in the central Philippines, killing more than 800 people on board.

In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,341 people in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ferry Queen of Victoria, 3 dead

m/s Queen of Victoria On August 2, 1970 the Soviet freighter Sergey Yesenin collided with the Queen of Victoria in Active Pass, slicing through the middle of the ferry, days after her return to service following stretching. Three people were killed and damage was estimated at over $1 million (1970) dollars. The Soviet ship was not supposed to be in Active Pass, and as such, the Soviet government was forced to compensate BC Ferries. Years later, while in Active Pass and within metres of the site of the 1970 collision, the Queen of Victoria was disabled by a fire in the engine room.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ferry Scandinavian Star, 158 dead

M/S Massalia, later known as M/S Scandinavian Star and M/S Regal Voyager was a car and passenger ferry built in France in 1971. The ship caught fire in 1990, killing 158 people.

M/S Massalia was built by Dubegion-Normandie S.A. in 1971 and delivered to Compagnie de Paqueboats who put her on the route Marseille - Málaga - Casablanca and also cruises in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1984 she was owned by a number of companies and named Stena Baltica, Island Fiesta and finally Scandinavian Star, a name given to her by Scandinavian World Cruises who chartered the ship and put her on cruises between Tampa, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico.

Scandinavian Star Fire
In 1990 she was sold to Vognmandsruten and put on DA-NO Linjen's route between Oslo, Norway and Frederikshavn, Denmark. As the ship had changed from a casino ship to a passenger ferry, a new crew needed to be trained in just 10 days (whereas 5-6 weeks is the normal time to train a crew for a ship this size). Many of the Filipino crew could speak neither Norwegian or English.
During the night of April 7, 1990, at about 2 a.m. local time, two fires broke out on deck 3 in the passenger section of the ship. The subsequent investigation into the disaster discovered that the second fire was deliberately set (the first fire started about 15 minutes earlier and may have been deliberate as well). Though the bulkheads were made of asbestos, the melamine resin laminate used as a decorative covering was extremely flammable and fed the fire, allowing it to spread throughout deck 3. These laminates also produced hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide when burned, which contributed to many of the deaths on board. As deck 3 also contained a car storage area there were large fans that were used to remove exhaust fumes. These fans sucked up the smoke and rapidly spread it throughout decks 4 and 5 of the ship.
When the captain learned of the fire, he attempted to close the fire doors on deck 3 to prevent the fire from spreading. The fire doors did not close automatically, and needed to be closed manually by pressing the button near the doors. As the doors were open, the fire was able to travel along the length of the ship. Later the captain ordered his crew to turn off the air conditioning system as the captain imagined it was feeding air to the fire. Once the ventilation system was shut off smoke was able to enter cabins and suffocate trapped passengers. The captain ordered the alarms to be activated, told everyone to abandon ship, and sent out a mayday request. Most people could not hear the alarms over the general noise and confusion on the ship, and many did not wake up. The captain and crew ultimately abandoned ship before all the passengers had been evacuated, leaving many still on board the burning ship even after it was towed to harbour (allegedly the captain and crew were unaware how many passengers had escaped).

Many passengers had difficulty escaping from the fire for several reasons: 1) Many people did not hear the alarms, therefore they did not wake up, 2) They could not find their way out because the thick smoke made it nearly impossible to find the nearest escape routes, 3) The smoke contained poisonous hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide fumes, causing unconsciousness and quick death, and 4) The many Filipinos in the crew did not speak or understand Norwegian or English, were unfamiliar with the ship, and had never practiced a fire drill, so they could not communicate with each other or the passengers and did not know how to respond to the fire.
The ship was towed to Lysekil in Sweden where the fire department managed to put out the fire in 10 hours. As a result of the fire 158 people died (approximately one third of the people on board); another victim died two weeks later from his injuries. One of the women who died was 6 months pregnant. The majority (136) of those killed were Norwegian.
The Scandinavian Star had another fire prior to 1990. On March 15, 1988 while sailing for SeaEscape on a Caribbean cruise, a fire started in the engine room when she was about 50 nautical miles (90 km) northeast of Cancun, Mexico. The ship was carrying 439 passengers and 268 crew members. The ship lost power and her fire fighting oxygen system malfunctioned (it would have let the fire fighters breathe while fighting the fire). The inability of the crew members to communicate with each other and with passengers was a serious concern and created confusion during the fire fighting and evacuation activities.

The burnt ship lay in Copenhagen for a few months until she was towed to Southampton and renamed Candi. In February 1994 she was sold on auction to International Shipping Partners. She was renamed Regal Voyager, sent to Italy for rebuilding and later chartered to Comarit Ferries and put on the route between Tangier and Port Vendres.
In 1997 she was registered for St. Thomas Cruises and put on a route between Port Isabel and Puerto Cortés for Isabel Cortes Ferry Service. Chartered to Ferries del Caribe in 1999 and put on the route Santo Domingo - San Juan.
The ship was laid up in South Carolina in 2003, then sold to Indian shipbreakers in 2004 and renamed to Regal V. She arrived at Alang on May 14, 2004 and the work to get her broken up started five days later.