Philippine Coast Guard Responds to Ferries with One Aground and Listing

Philippine ferries
Philippine inter-island ferry aground and listing (Philippine Coast Guard photos)

Published Jul 17, 2023 6:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Philippine Coast Guard responded to two situations with inter-island ferries over the weekend preparing for the potential evacuation of nearly 500 passengers. Inter-island ferries are one of the key means of transportation in the Philippines but have a spotty record in some cases on safety.

In the early morning hours of July 156, a ferry the Maria Helena, carrying 93 passengers and 36 crew experienced a problem about 300 feet from shore on Banton island. Reports vary on the cause of the problem with the Coast Guard reporting it was responding to a grounding of the vessel which was taking on a list. Media reports said the crew intentionally grounded the ferry when it encountered heavy surf possibly due to the onset of monsoon season.

The Maria Helena was reported aground at just after 0200 local time on Sunday. The Coast Guard organized a rescue operation and about one hour later they began removing the passengers using lifeboats. There were also 16 vehicles on the ferry with reports saying that nine of the drivers were refusing to leave wanting to safeguard their vehicles.

The ferry took on a reported 10-degree list and low in the stern partially from the grounding. In addition, the crew attempted to secure the vehicles. However, one reported broke its lashing and blew a tire causing the imbalance of the ferry. The sea condition where the vessel went aground was reported to be calm.

By Sunday mid-morning the Coast Guard reported that the drivers had abandoned the ship as well as most of the crew. The captain and quartermaster remained aboard the stricken ferry to safeguard the vehicles and coordinate efforts at rescue. The Coast Guard reported that there are also 21,000 liters of marine diesel aboard and as a precaution an oil boom has been placed around the ship. 


Philippine Coast Guard assisted while engine repairs were completed for the second ferry


The second incident had a better outcome as the ferry Trisha Kerstin 2 was able to restart its engine with assistance from the Coast Guard. There were 342 passengers aboard the ferry which departed Zamboanga City on July 15. Later in the day, the vessel reported that it had broken a main engine cooling pipe and lost power. The Coast Guard stood by and by 2400 they reported the engine problem was repaired so that the ferry could get underway without having to have been evacuated. It reached its destination around 0200 on July 16.