2GO ship nearly capsizes

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Monday, June 17, 2013

THE 360 passengers aboard the M/V ST. Gregory The Great of the 2GO shipping lines were spared from near sea disaster, as the ship nearly capsized after it suffered a hole in its hull while navigating Iloilo Strait Saturday morning.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the ill-fated passenger liner safely reached Arrastre Port in Fort San Pedro, Iloilo City despite the water that submerged its engine compartment.

PCG Iloilo Commander Lt. Cdr. Dominador Senador III said, based on their initial investigation with ship captain Gregory Diamante, the near disaster happened 3 a.m. Saturday.


The ship was traversing the Iloilo Strait in the vicinity of the Siete Picados islets or an estimated seven nautical miles away from Iloilo City when the vessel vibrated or jolted, after which the crew felt the onrushing water entering the engine compartment that reached to almost two meters in height.

The crew asked the help of the PCG, which immediately responded to the area along with two tugboats that towed the passenger ship safely towards Iloilo Arrastre port early Saturday morning.

PCG is presently conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the incident.

Authorities theorized that the vessel may have a hit hard rock under the water while navigating the shallow portion of the Iloilo Strait, causing damage to the ship’s hull that later saw water entering the engine compartment.

No one was reported hurt or injured during the incident, apart from the sudden panic that gripped passengers aboard after seeing the ship crew who started to distribute life jackets to them.

The St. Gregory The Great came from Metro Manila passing Bredco port in Bacolod City before going to Iloilo City on its way to Cagayan De Oro when the sea-going vessel was caught in a near disaster.

The ship is now docked at the Iloilo arrastre port for proper repair of its damaged hull while the management of the shipping firm also assured passengers stranded in the port of Iloilo City that it will provide help.

Grace Golez, assistant vice president of the Passenger Retail Sale of 2GO, assured that they have been providing food and other necessary assistance to the stranded passengers.

She said they will bring all the passengers bound for Cagayan De Oro City to Cebu and that they are also giving refund to passengers who would opt to find their own means to go to their respective destinations.

Salvacion Tortula, one of the passengers, said that they first felt shaken and they then heard something like a strong blast.

Some of the passengers panicked but were later appeased when they were informed of the PCG rescue.

In 2011, a vessel of Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc. that traveled between Cebu and Iloilo capsized less than two hours after it sent a distress call amid rough waves and strong winds.

The incident happened after big waves and strong winds hit the 2,400-ton vessel while it was cruising the vicinity of Calabasa Island off the coast of Ajuy town, Iloilo, or about 33 nautical miles from Iloilo City.

Everyone on board was rescued, including a 10-month-old baby and Eufemia Abonales, at 70 the oldest of the ship’s passengers. The official PCG report said 168 were aboard the vessel. (TDE)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 17, 2013.

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