Almost two months now after the ill-fated MV Princess of the Star went under the sea, the Board of Marine Inquiry tagged error of judgment by the ship captain led into the capsizing of the ship as shown in their initial findings. No matter what, “the ship is always under the full responsibility of the master.” Earlier it was the PAGASA that was scored on for faulty weather forecasting. In fact Sulpicio Lines, owner of the MV Princess of the Stars, had put all the blames to PAGASA for the tragic sinking of their ship.
Below is the complete story from ABS-CBN News Online
BMI: Captain’s ‘error of judgment’ led to ‘Princess’ tragedy
The captain of the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars committed an “error of judgment” when he allowed the vessel to sail despite the worsening weather condition last June, initial findings of the Board of Marine Inquiry’s (BMI) investigation into the capsizing of the ship showed.
“Human error is the principal mistake, neglect, [or] lapse in this part of the tragedy,” BMI vice-chairman Capt. Demetrio Ferrer said in an interview on ANC.
Ferrer maintained that “a ship is always under the full responsibility of the master”. Weather bulletins from PAGASA were just a “contributory factor” to the sinking of the ferry off Romblon that killed hundreds of its passengers, he added.
Weather bureau PAGASA had been blamed by Princess of the Stars’ owner, Sulpicio Lines Inc., for the tragedy. Ferrer, however, said marine officers should not solely rely on PAGASA bulletins.
He pointed out that for one, every ship captain has instruments in order to determine the severity of the weather condition.
He also cited a provision under the International Safety Management (ISM) Code prohibiting a ship from going inside a storm or crossing during typhoons. ISM provides an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention.
“All public agencies are duty-bound to provide services to people such as the safety matter aspects. In our international maritime rule, the master or the company, or other merchant marine officers will not just rely on other sources,” Ferrer said.
The BMI has ended its hearings on the tragedy. Ferrer said the agency will still have to compile other pieces of evidence before they can come out with recommendations.
Ferrer said the BMI recommendations will focus on proactive measures so as to prevent a repeat of the incident, admitting that the current system in the local maritime industry needs “overhaul.”
The Princess of the Stars capsized off San Fernando town in Romblon at the height of bad weather brought by typhoon Frank on June 21. It sailed with 864 passengers and crewmen from the port of Manila the night before.
If it investigation points at error of judgement on the part of the ship captain as the one to blame in the capsizing of MV Princess of the Stars, the owner Sulpicio Lines is not yet absolved of civil liabilities. It has to compensate still the victims, and may still face other kinds of lawsuits for reasons of negligence.