Capitol: Vessel won’t leave until damages are paid for

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Michelle Joy L. Padayhag June 20,2016 - 11:14 PM
Capitol disaster management council chief Baltazar Tribunalo shows the extent of damage caused by the MV Belle Rose. (CDN FILE PHOTO)

Capitol disaster management council chief Baltazar Tribunalo shows the extent of damage caused by the MV Belle Rose. (CDN FILE PHOTO)

Local officials don’t want the Panamanian-registered cargo vessel MV Belle Rose to leave the country after it was refloated yesterday.

The refloating came eight days after the vessel ran aground in the waters off a famous dive spot in Daanbantayan town, northern Cebu.

Baltazar Tribunalo, chief of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said the owner of MV Belle Rose should write a letter stating that it would pay the damage on the coral reefs off Monad Shoal, an underwater island that is used as cleaning station for thresher sharks.

But he said the representatives of the shipping firm assured provincial and municipal officials that they would settle the damage made by the vessel.

To be able to demand payment, Tribunalo said an assessment should be made to determine the actual damage on the corals and their monetary value.

The assessment would be conducted by an interagency panel comprised of representatives from the PDRRMO, Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas and Daanbantayan municipal government.

A rehabilitation plan should also be drafted after the assessment.

MV Belle Rose was refloated past 10 a.m. on Monday after the three tugboats owned by Malayan Towage and Salvaging Corp. were finally able to pull it back to deeper waters.

“We were able to pull it to almost 100 meters backward where water was deeper,” said Noel Kimmayong, marine superintendent of the salvor company.

The salvor company deployed three tugboats used in pulling the vessel, which ran aground in Monad Shoal while en route to San Fernando town, southern Cebu, where they were supposed to deliver 43,000 bags of clinker, a raw material used in the manufacture of cement.

Two tugboats were at the rear of the vessel to pull it back while another was at the other end to maintain balance.

The operations started last Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. during high tide.

Aside from pulling back the vessel, Kimmayong said they also discharged almost 1,000 tons water from the ballast tanks using five portable pumps to lighten the vessel.

Kimmayong said when they inspected the MV Belle Rose, they found three holes at the ballast tanks.

He added the vessel was towed by two tugboats to San Fernando to deliver its cargo to a cement factory and where it would stay on anchorage.

Local environment officials earlier said at least three hectares of the 300-hectare Monad Shoal were damaged when the vessel ran aground.

Affected were Brain Corals species locally called “Tampulong” and “Binagong.”

It would cost about $30,000 (P1.4 million in an exchange rate of P47 to a dollar) to rehabilitate through coral transplant the reef damaged by the vessel.

The amount doesn’t include management and environmental protection.

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TAGS: aground, Cebu, Cebu Provincial Capitol, coral, coral reef, corals, diving, Malapascua, MV Belle Rose, vessel

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