MANILA, Philippines — The crude oil tanker that collided with a fishing boat in Pangasinan and resulted in the death of three Filipino fishermen is now in Singapore, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said yesterday.
Balilo added that the Port State Control (PSC) in Singapore would give way to the maritime officials in Marshall Islands, where MT Pacific Anna is registered and sailing under its flag, to conduct the investigation.
An investigation will determine if MT Pacific Anna collided with FFB Dearyn at 4:20 a.m. of Oct. 2, that caused the fishing boat to capsize leading to the death of three Filipinos – the captain and two crewmen
The collision reportedly took place some 180 nautical miles off the town of Agno, Pangasinan.
“We have written to the PSC of Singapore and Marshall Islands. The PSC of Singapore responded and said they were aware of the incident and they are in coordination with the maritime authority of Marshall Islands,” Balilo told The STAR.
He said “The PSC of Singapore received information that Marshall Islands is already investigating the incident, reportedly involving one of their ships, so Singapore would no longer interfere.”
“We are hoping that they (Marshall Islands officials) will be able to share with us the outcome of their probe,” he added.
From the investigation, the PCG hopes to learn MT Pacific Anna’s exact location at the time of the collision, if it saw the FFB Dearyn and if it exercised due diligence to avoid the collision such as if the fishing boat appeared on its radar system.
However, Balilo said the crude oil tanker would not be forced to stay at the anchorage area in Singapore while the investigation is being conducted.
“There is no such talk that Pacific Anna would have to stay in Singapore. Marshall Islands will just do the normal process of investigation. We will just wait for the results of their investigation… They can be investigated even if the ship is in the anchorage area,” he added.
Balilo also believes that Marshall Islands officials will conduct an impartial investigation, even if one of its vessels is allegedly involved.
“Stakeholders in the maritime community all over the world have this sense of responsibility in the shipping industry to conduct an investigation whenever such a maritime incident occurs,” Balilo said.
There is no definite date when the Marshall Islands would complete its probe and provide the PCG a copy of its report. However, Balilo gave assurance that the “PCG will do its best to obtain justice for those who died.”
In a related development, Balilo said that as of Oct. 7, the FFB Dearyn was still at sea and had not yet been towed to shore, where it would be inspected as part of their investigation.
Last Saturday, the PCG Islander flew over the location of the capsized fishing boat but due to the bad weather condition and poor visibility, they failed to see the boat.
He is not discounting the possibility that the fishing boat might completely sink underwater, “that is why we need to thoroughly validate” its location and condition.
The PCG has two multirole response vessels on standby and ready to be dispatched to assist in the towing of the fishing boat to shore.