PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – Authorities assured the people that an aggregates-carrying barge which ran aground recently off El Nido will not cause an oil spill and ruin the town’s famed islands and beaches.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) – El Nido station Deputy Commander Harvey Marmol said they are monitoring the status of the barge – named LCT OMS 6 – that ran aground off Sitio Cabigsing, Barangay Buena Suerte, several meters away from the town port.
“Based on our initial assessment, no oil spill has been observed in the area. Good thing it’s a double-hull barge and the grounded part isn’t the rear portion that holds the oil,” he said on Thursday, February 8.
Marmol said the grounding occurred in the sandy area and thus left no coral damage.
The barge, manned by Captain Antonino Botero and with 15 crew members, left Cabangan port in Zambales to deliver 1,200 cubic meters of sand to El Nido.
An investigation revealed the barge had been stuck in the said area since Sunday, February 4, when authorities started to issue gale warnings due to strong winds and waves associated with the surge of northeast monsoon or Amihan.
“The captain said they tried to wait for the highest tide starting that day for them to be able to dock at the port, but they failed to do so since the highest tide occurs every 12 midnight and the sea condition (had not been) cooperating even in the following days,” Marmol said.
Marmol said it was only around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7, a crew member informed them about the incident.
“The barge experienced steering malfunction, causing it to run aground and drift to the shallow part of the said area,” he added.
Another cargo vessel, also a LCT, would be arriving in 4 or 5 days to unload the grounded vessel.
“After the unloading of aggregates, then that’s the time we would see if it can move on its own. If not, then we will advise them to get a tugboat that will pull them to the port for inspection,” he said.
Vessel captain Botero has been directed to secure a certificate of underwater-hull inspection to determine any possible hull damage, and to give a situational report to the said station to monitor the ship’s movement.
The PCG El Nido station issued the said vessel a detention notification, which was also submitted to the Philippine Port Authority and Maritime Industry Authority.
Botero is required to secure a seaworthiness certificate before the ship is allowed to resume normal operations. – Rappler.com
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