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2GO Super Ferry crashes twice at Batangas pier

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LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God…” (1 Corinthians 10:31, the Holy Bible).

2GO SUPER FERRY, ST. SEALTHIEL, CRASHES THROUGH THE PIER: Now I know why many ship passengers die during sea mishaps, and the scary thing about it is that, this knowledge came to me through a personal, if harrowing and gripping, experience courtesy of 2GO Super Ferry’s St. Sealthiel which, inexplicably, went out of control as it was preparing to leave the Batangas City pier, bound for Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro, during the early morning of October 18, 2013.

Whoever owns 2GO Super Ferry Travels must realize that, during the crucial moments after the sea mishap involving St. Sealthiel last Friday (whatever it was that may have caused such mishap), its captain, first officer, or any other responsible crew of the ferry, failed to immediately go on the vessel’s public address system to explain to the public not only what was happening, but, more importantly, what needed to be done to avoid death or injury.

For several agonizing minutes after the front portion of St. Sealthiel crashed for the first time along the cemented railings of the Batangas City pier as it was readying to ply its route at about 6:30 a.m., the passengers were left all alone to themselves guessing what was happening, and were not told at all about safety precautions that they must undertake right after the mishap.

ST. SEALTHIEL’S PASSENGERS ABANDONED: Undeniably, St. Sealthiel’s passengers were literally and figuratively abandoned by the ship’s crew at that crucial moment, and, from hindsight, this situation, in other sea accidents, is the one that gives rise to confusion and chaos among terrified passengers, which are sure recipes for death and destruction.

What bothered me all the more was the total absence, likewise, of any Coast Guard personnel or officer or of any Philippine National Police Maritime elements that could have undertaken immediate coordination with the ship’s captain and crew, first to assure the safety of the panicking passengers, and second, to see to it that the proper maneuver would be undertaken to dock the ferry once again.

The fact was that, there was no reason why the vessel had to crush into the pier’s cemented railings as it tried to start its return trip to Calapan City, moving away from where it was parked to unload its passengers from Calapan City (where it came from at about 5:30 a.m. on that day), and to receive its passengers from Batangas City who were enroute to Calapan City (at about 6:30 a.m.).

NO COAST GUARD OR MARITIME POLICE: However, when I saw that St. Sealthiel continued to proceed forward instead of backing up, heading right forward to the cemented railings of the pier, I instinctively jumped to a metal post and held on to it real tight, even if one woman-employee was saying I had to remain in my seat at the air-conditioned coach of the vessel. Remain in my seat? My God! The seat was without any seat belt, like all the rest of the seats there, and so it would not have been safe to just sit there as the vessel was ramming its front and back portions.

After several minutes from the first impact, the vessel started to move back but, from the way it was moving, it was attempting to maneuver, like a car or a jeep, inside the very narrow passageway where it was parked earlier, so that its front portion could face the open sea, apparently with the intention to proceed with the trip just the same. But then, the backing up of the vessel went out of control again, causing its back portion to hit the cemented railing of the pier.

The fact was that, had there been Coast Guard or Maritime Police elements that immediately responded right after the first time the vessel bumped its from portion, I am sure everything would have been fine. But, since not even their shadows could be seen at the pier (which was unusual of course, considering that boat and ferry trips were already furiously being undertaken even at that early hour), St. Sealthiel maneuvered erroneously once more, and bumped itself for the second time. What a day!!!

REACTIONS? Please call me at 0917 984 24 68, 0918 574 0193, 0922 833 43 96. Email: batasmauricio@yahoo.com, mmauriciojr111@gmail.com.

By Batas Mauricio




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