Sunken Treasure or Sunken Trash? Grounded Cruise Ship to be Salvaged in Philippines

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A
General Santos City - area near cruise ship grounding accident
General Santos City – Area near cruise ship grounding accident

We’ve all heard of sunken treasure before. You know, gold coins, crown jewels, pirate booty, that kind of thing. But does a sunken cruise ship count as treasure? Hmmm, probably not to most, but one particular vessel does seem to strike the Philippine Coast Guard’s fancy.

Now, whether or not the vessel has any hidden treasure is anyone’s guess, but our maritime attorneys are wondering what’s so special about a 23,000-ton Panamanian cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of General Santos City last week. Probably nothing, given that the ship has reportedly been scheduled for decommissioning, but it’s still taking up a lot of space under the water and it may cause numerous issues.

According to a MindaNews report, Philippine Coast Guard commander Lt. Jay Tarriela explained that the MV Victory Pacific, which is currently sitting not so pretty roughly 150 meters off Barangay Dadiangas West, is to be salvaged. The ship was stranded in an area not too far from a coastal community, which could pose a danger to residents, especially because it has been slowly drifting closer to shore. It could also pose a threat to any marine ecosystems as well. The Coast Guard is in the process of investigating whether the accident caused any damage to the coral reefs in the region.

Reports on the cruise ship accident explain that the vessel was en route to Singapore from Mexico when it ran out of bunker fuel. As a result, diesel fuel had to be used instead, and the ship ran aground into a “shallow area” while attempting to reach Makar port to refuel.

Luckily, there were no passengers on board the ship at the time of the grounding accident, and so far, none of the vessel’s 21 officers and crew members have reported any injuries. However, officials did report that none of the Victory Pacific’s crew seemed to be familiar with the area they were sailing through. Could their inexperience have possibly contributed to the accident? Was any other act of negligence to blame?

Cruise ship operators have a responsibility to maintain the safety of everyone on board, and this includes ensuring the vessel has enough fuel to make it from one port to another. How the vessel ran out of fuel is anyone’s guess, but there is a possibility that crew members either miscalculated the amount of fuel that would be needed to reach their next destination or neglected to fully fuel the vessel in general before it set sail.

Hopefully this was just a freak maritime accident, but unfortunately, most accidents involving cruise ships are the result of negligence. Only time – and investigation reports – will reveal what really happened.