Coast Guard asks Namria's help to find RORO sunken vessel

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is getting some help from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria) via a vessel with a sonar sensor that can help locate the sunken M/V Starlite Atlantic in Batangas.

Eighteen crewmen of the sunken ship are believed to be still trapped inside.

PCG Station Batangas Commander Raul Belesario said they had asked Namria for assistance to find the roll-on, roll-off ship (RORO) and its crew, but that the Namria vessel had yet to arrive.

The sensor of the Namria ship is capable of tracing sunken vessels 200 meters to as far as 500 meters underwater – roughly 1,500 feet – according to Belesario, also chair of the Coast Guard’s Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI).

The BMI convened on January 3 to probe into the sinking on December 26, of M/V Starlite Atlantic. The RORO ship sank off Batangas at the height of Typhoon Nina (Nock-ten).

At least one crew member was reported killed, while 18 remained missing as of January 4.

Belesario said it is possible for the vessel to be in the shallow part of the sea at between 1,300 to 1,500 feet. The Namria ship, he added, can find its exact location.

Coast guard districts in Manila, Palawan, and Western Visayas have been alerted by the PCG to send search patrols.

When it sank, only the ship’s crew was on board. There were neither passengers nor cargo on board. It had 33 crew members, of which only 14 have been rescued. –