A year after Princess of the Stars tragedy, PCG bares innovations to prevent similar tragedy

June 22, 2009 8:50 am 

MANILA, June 22 — A year after the sinking of the M/V Princess of the Stars (POTS) off the coast of Sibuyan Island in Romblon, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) announced the innovations which it have adopted to prevent similar tragedy.

PCG Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said existing sailing regulations during typhoons were reviewed and came up with improved guidelines on movement of vessels during adverse weather condition, in close coordination with PAGASA and the shipping sector.

It could be recalled that the 23,000 gross tonnage (GT) vessel sunk when caught near the center of typhoon "Frank" last June 21, 2008.

With the new guidelines, vessels of 1,000 GT and below are not allowed to sail when public storm signal no. 1 is hoisted while no vessel is allowed to sail when storm signal no.2 or higher is raised in either of the vessel’s origin or route or destination.

In both cases, vessels not allowed to sail shall only be permitted to take shelter from the storm without passengers and shall report their safe condition to the PCG every 30 minutes.

A new user friendly graphical representation of the typhoon path and area shall also be published by PAGASA in its regular weather forecast for easier reference.

Tamayo also reported that maritime safety information, including weather bulletins from PAGASA and notices to mariners, are now being relayed by the PCG Communications Center to vessels thru the Navigational Telex (NAVTEX) using the standard 518kHz, 490kHz and 4209.5 kHz, a move lauded by the shipping sector.

Such capability of the PCG was acquired after the completion of Phase 1 of the PCG-Japan International Cooperation (JICA) Communication Enhancement Project on April this year.

Armed with such a capability, warnings and information, mariners would be able take precautionary measures during navigation. (PNA) /V3/JES/

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