The management of 2GO Group, which operates M/V St. Gregory the Great decided to cancel the remaining voyages of the vessel after a portion of its underwater starboard hull was damaged.
It said that portion sustained long scratches and small punctures while traversing the narrow channel along Iloilo Strait Saturday and the vessel will not sail until maximum compliance with safety standards have been done.
Bimsy Mapa, executive vice-president of the Shipping business unit of the 2GO Group of companies, yesterday clarified reports in a national paper that the vessel nearly capsized. He said the ship remained afloat after it encountered a minor incident 45 minutes before safely docking at the Port of Iloilo and that there were no incidences of passenger panic on board the vessel.
Mapa said the 2GO Group Inc. management also pointed out that the passage traversed by the vessel is often the route of domestic ships guided by navigational charts which are pre-plotted, using the official National Mapping and Resource Information Authority chart.
He said 2GO’s modern fleet has safety features, including watertight doors that trigger automatic closure of sealed compartments in the event of emergencies, such as water leak or fire, to isolate and prevent spreading to other compartments, and maintain the ship’s buoyancy. This makes the incident of capsizing and sinking very unlikely, he said.
Mapa added that the quick response of the officers and crew to the incident and proper coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard enabled the ship to dock safely in the port of Iloilo under normal docking procedures.
2GO Travel, a new brand name of the country’s leading passenger ships Negros Navigation, Superferry, Cebu Ferries, and Supercat also reported thatwere no incidences of any damaged cargoes as these were transferred to other ships to ensure timely delivery to 2GO Freight’s clients during the incident.
Meanwhile, a ship inspector of the Maritime Industry Authority Region 6 admitted yesterday that there are deficiencies noted in some of the sea vessels ferrying passengers from Negros Occidental to Panay Island and vice-versa.
He said some of the sea vessels have defective generators that could hamper sailing, while others have insufficient safety apparatus like life vests and life jackets.
He said that MARINA could not immediately detect these deficiencies because they conduct inspection only during the renewal of the operators’ safety certificates, rainy season and opening of classes.
He added that whenever they note deficiencies in the sea vessels they immediately notify the operators so they could correct them although there are those who could not comply.*APN