By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The captain at the helm of the M/V Ocean Jet 7, which crashed into the Bredco port earlier this week, failed to inform passengers of impending impact, according to Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) investigators, which could lead to disciplinary actions.
PCG-Bacolod station commander, Lieutenant Senior Grade Jimmy Oliver Vingno, said Captain Sergio Alcibar could face suspension, revocation of his license, or a fine from the Maritime Industry Authority.
Vingno said the captain had ample time to inform passenger prior to impact through the vessel’s public audio (PA) system; however, with the PA system inoperable at the time of the accident, Alcibar should have informed his crew to provide a warning to passengers.
The local PCG commander also called for inspections of all Ocean Fast Ferries, Inc. vessels, considering another one of their vessels, the M/V Ocean Jet 12, nearly tipped over last year near Calapan, Mindoro.
He also wants all captains, officers, and crew of Ocean Jet vessels to undergo emergency readiness evaluations.
In terms of the ship itself, Vingno said investigators determined the ship’s throttles malfunctioned, as Alcibar claimed he tried to reverse the ship around 15 meters from the jetty to slow down, but the vessel accelerated instead.
Vingno said they are questioning if the vessel’s throttle systems broke down or if the engines were responsible for the malfunction.
Last Wednesday evening, at least 40 people were hospitalized after Ocean Jet 7 slammed into the Bredco port jetty. The impact damaged a dividing wall owned by another ferry company, along with the bow section of the vessel.
Passengers, meanwhile, were thrown from their seats.
All of the injured passengers were later discharged after receiving treatment and were refunded by the ferry operator.
The vessel is presently under the PCG’s custody and will be returned to Ocean Fast once they secure sea worthiness certificates for the vessel.
The ferry company, meanwhile, announced it will also conduct a separate investigation of the incident.
Ocean Jet 7 was previously involved in the same exact accident at the Bredco port in September of last year, which resulted in 15 injuries./DGB, WDJ