A Japanese remotely operated vehicle (ROV) located on Tuesday MT Princess Empress that sank off the waters of Oriental Mindoro on Feb. 28.
In a situation update, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said ROV Hakuyo, onboard Japanese Dynamic Positioning Vessel (DPV) Shin Nichi Maru found the sunken tanker at 7.7 nautical miles from Balingawan Point in Naujan town, Oriental Mindoro province on Monday.
“Dito inilunsad ang ROV HAKUYO na kayang sumisid hanggang 2,000 metro (This is where ROV Hakuyo was launched, capable of diving up to 2,000 meters),” the PCG said.
The services of DPV Shin Nichi Maru and ROV Hakuyo were hired by RDC Reield Marine Services (RDC) — the owner of MT Princess Empress — to locate and assess the condition of the sunken tanker.
In a press briefing, Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor also showed the initial photos and videos taken by the ROV of the sunken tanker ship that was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil and has caused a spill in the regions of MIMAROPA and Western Visayas.
“Sa wakas, natagpuan na ang MT Princess Empress. Ang unang sulyap sa lumubog na barko gamit ang ROV lulan ng Japanese vessel na sinalubong natin kahapon at inihatid sa lugar na pinangyarihan ng trahedya (Finally, the MT Princess Empress has been found. The first image of the sunken ship using the ROV by the Japanese vessel that we welcomed yesterday and brought to the area where the incident happened),” Dolor earlier posted on his Facebook page.
With this development, Dolor said the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro will discuss with the PCG and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the insurance company, and the ship owner Harbor Star Shipping Services Inc., their next plan of action.
“Nakita natin ng personal nung ibinababa yung ROV kahapon, nais kong exclusive na ipakita sa inyo ang ilan sa mga piling litrato na nakuha ng ROV na maaaring maging basehan ng Harbor Star at ng pamahalaang local at nasyonal sa pangunguna ng Coast Guard at ng DENR at ng pamahalaang panlalawigan para finally makagawa ng maliwanag na plano kung paano aalisin itong langis sa loob o kung ano ang kailangang gawin para takpan ang mga butas sa barko (I personally saw how the ROV was brought down into the waters yesterday, I want to show you exclusively some photos taken by the ROV which may be used as basis by the Harbor Star, the local and national government through the Coast Guard and the DENR so we can finally have a clear action plan on how to remove the oil from the vessel or what to do so we can cover the holes in the ship),” Dolor said.
To date, Harbor Star — contracted by RDC to help in the cleanup drive — has hired a total of 147 workers in addition to 25 local volunteers, members of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, local fisherfolks, and 57 PCG personnel to conduct shoreline (land) cleanup operations.
The PCG has also dispatched 13 marine science technicians to conduct testing of the dispersants used to check their effectivity prior to application plus 10 personnel that compose the offshore response team.
In offshore (sea) cleanup operations, M/TUG Titan 1 and M/TUG Lidagat of Malayan Towage and Salvage Company have applied a total of 24,620 liters of oil spill dispersant since March 1 at waters about 6.3 nautical miles from the shoreline of Balingawan Point, Lucta Point, and Buloc Bay.
In shoreline cleanup operations, the PCG and its partners have collected 2,353 sacks, weighing about 58,825 kilograms, and 22 drums of oil-contaminated debris since March 1.
The contaminated debris was collected in 12 affected barangays — around 300 square meters of mangroves and 16.8 kilometers of shoreline. (PNA)