Philippine Shipwrecks

shipwreck-philippines-001Shipwrecks in the Philippines

In the words of Freddie Mercury – and another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust!

The Abu Sayaf and the New Peoples Army are often cited as reasons for foreigners to fear traveling in the Philippines, but the lackluster attention paid to safe sailing between the islands makes sea voyages a far greater danger to the average traveler than the odd extremist.

The Super Ferry 9 capsized off of Mindanao on Sept 6, 2009 . The remaining passenger carrying ships of the Aboitiz fleet has been grounded pending a review of what went wrong.  There are 9 confirmed dead, 1 missing and the rest of the nearly 1000 on board were rescued.

thumbs_2e2e2_ferry-capsizes-16Just last year during typhoon Frank, the MV Princess of the Stars capsized off Romblon Island. 800 people died during that tragedy.

link – ferry capsizes

Another Sulpicio vessel collided with an oil tanker near Batangas in 1987, resulting in over 4000 dead.  (For perspective – it is estimated around 1,500 perished when the Titanic went down).

Hopefully the investigators will come up with the cause of the list on the Super Ferry (the reason the boat started lying over). Some travelers felt something was wrong with the ship from the onset of the voyage, leaving from General Santos.

A Panamanian registered log hauling vessel sunk off of Eastern Samar on Monday too.

It is uncanny how many vessels run into trouble on runs between the islands in the Philippines. Here are some things that I feel could be contributing factors.

This is nothing official – just some dutchpickle observations:

1) Many of the boats used as ferries in the Philippines have outlived their service life in Japan and have been retrofitted and placed back into service here. Most of them pass inspection and are pretty sound vessels but they have a lot of wear and tear on them in their previous life that might have weaknesses that are slowly compounded every year. Preventative maintenance takes a back seat in this country and parts are rarely replaced until broken completely.

ferry-sinks-0012) The boats captains here don’t seem too be too concerned about load shift. The loads do not seem to be lashed properly on many of the runs that I have made (over 100 boat passages so far). That could lead to what the pirates of old called a “loose cannon”. An unsecured cannon that broke free of it’s restraints would wreck havoc as it slid back and forth on the deck. Unsecured trucks, buses, pallets of scrap iron, rice or just about anything that can shift can be the first domino that sets disaster in motion.

3) Ships owners should place a higher priority on ships safety than on profit taking.

ship-safety-0014) Before the Princess of the Stars typhoon disaster last year, very little heed was paid to developing weather situations. The Philippine government really cracked down on that and I have noticed a marked attention paid to life jacket drills and the like since that time. Ships companies are more likely to cancel voyages when low pressure systems are moving into the area too.

5) The Philippines simply gets some terrible weather at times. Admiral Halsey got caught up in a Philippine typhoon with his fleet  during WW2 and lost 3 destroyers, nearly 800 men, 100 plus aircraft and extensive damage to the remaining vessels. You have to respect the sea and try not to take unnecessary risk. The law of averages will catch up to you.


Sep 8, 2009

10 responses to “Philippine Shipwrecks”

  1. Hi dp,
    i was doing the Allen to Matnog a few years ago and the weather was not so good as it often is on that crossing. Well we had the nunns infront of us on there kees praying and we had the captain on the tanoy asking passengers to move to the lefthand side of the ferry as we were listing. Man that was a bad one. I read about the ferrythe other day. Know did u notice anything in perticular. The captain survived. ahahah Well he would as he would be the first one off the ship. No going down with the ship here ahahahaah. I have a great story about a friend of mine that i will tell another time. But it all started when she went to the cr and fell through the floor on a pump boat travelling between Cebu and Polompon.
    C U soon . safe riding bro.

  2. DP,

    In the Philippines also when I’ve taken super ferry trips in the past they tend to over load the ferry with people and excess cargo! On one trip i did in April 2001 from Dumaguette to Manila their was more people on board than they had beds for on the top deck.

    But its not only the super ferries that are over loaded and not well maintain, next time you go to take a bus trip check out the tyres on the buses as some of them will be near bald or down to the steel in parts.

    Counting down the days now till I’m back over in the Philippines again…see you soon!


  3. DP,

    Yeah that was the same trip that i lighten the ferries load a bit by dropping that “CROWING ROOSTER” in the cardboard box beside my bunk overboard in the middle of the night!

    Mate was the owner of that rooster so mad in the morning when he couldn’t find his cockfighting rooster beside his bunk where he left it sitting the night before.

    I was just laughing my “GUTS” out and i couldn’t even tell my Filipino girlfriend at the time that i was the one that got rid of that rooster!


  4. Hey dp,
    well the lady in question hit the water with the floor of the cr and managed to keep a hold of it. The area in question is know for tiger sharks ( actually theres a great little island in that area called Kalangaman were they have an overnight during international boat racing) and having lived in Abijao which is 1 hour pump boat away we used to go over there for the day with leechon and the works for a picnic. Anyways we going aways from the lady in the shark infested water. Well she hung on to the ply board for a far few hours until a local fisherman out working picked her up and to her to the mainland. We in the village got the message that she had gone missing. Now here is the real funny part!!!!!!!!!. The lady in the sea had been sitting with another woman during the trip and she asked the lady if she would hold her cellphone and handbag as she wanted to use the cr. The lady obliged and sat for the next hour or so until the boat docked . Then she reported that the lady had not returned ahahahah. Wonderful. Well the woman in the seas phone rang and the captain of the ferry answered it as the other lady had handed it in to him and he said that the owner of the cell phone owner had vanished overboard somewhere or other and they would be searching for her. The caller was the ladies daughter( our neighbor) and off coarse we heard directly . Hours later we then heard that she had been found. Two days later i went over the street and visited the lady and gave her a big hug and asked how she was. her face was burnt but she didnt complain as the sharks had not eaten her. She said that she turned her back on them as they swam around and she prayed a lot. I actually sent this story to a national newspaper in the UK but they didn’t print it. Maybe thought it was unbelievable. mmmmmmmmm maybe anywhere else in the world but in in the Philippines . You gotta love it here.

  5. I was watching a documentary, about the boat collision with 4000 people, they called it the “Titanic of Asia”, they found out that the oil tanker’s steering wheel was jammed, and did not pass the safety test, but they decided to let it float anyway to save money, they said they had to use 2 people just to steer it. But that night the captain and other crew were drinking with some friends and did not see the other boat, so they crashed and the fire mixed with the oil started a bigger fire and killed everyone except 25 people. It was on the Discovery Channel you should watch it, they should show it again.

  6. good day! i’m searching for some documents and news on the october 5, 1970 m/v tacloban shipwreck. can anyone help me find the right website? thank u very much. :<3

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