Posted on May 10, 2023
On Saturday, the capsized dredger Hong Hai 189 finally sank near the island of Corregidor at the entrance to Manila Bay.
On April 28, the dredger Hong Hai 189 was in a collision with the product tanker Petite Soeur off Corregidor, a historic site at the entrance to Manila Bay. Hong Hai 189 was inbound and Petite Soeur had just gotten under way from a petroleum terminal north of the island. The two collided at a speed of about six knots, and Hong Hai 189 capsized shortly after. Three crewmembers died and two went missing; 15 survived. No injuries or casualties were reported aboard Petite Souer.
The Philippine Coast Guard is still determining whether the vessels were in a crossing situation or an overtaking situation under COLREGs.
On May 6, more than a week after the capsizing, Hong Hai 189 finally sank off Mariveles, Bataan, where she had been relocated after the casualty. Images from the response show that two similar dredgers rafted up with the stricken ship in an attempt to keep her afloat.
Before the sinking, the PCG had already deployed containment booms around the wreck in order to mitigate any pollution. The agency redoubled its environmental protection efforts after the dredger went down, including sorbent deployment.
So far, only a minimal quantity of petroleum has been detected outside of the containment area, amounting to at most 50 liters. The PCG continues to monitor the wreck site.
Search for missing dive boat passengers called off
The past few months have been exceptionally busy for the PCG’s first responders, with major casualties occurring every few weeks. In addition to the disastrous sinking of the tanker Princess Empress and the capsizing of the Hong Hai 189, the PCG had to mount a large search and rescue operation for missing individuals from the sinking of a dive charter boat, the Dream Keeper.
Dream Keeper went down with 32 aboard on April 30 off Tubbataha Reef, a popular dive destination off Palawan. 28 people were rescued in the immediate aftermath of the casualty, but four remain missing, including the vessel owner, one crewmember and two passengers. Patrol vessel BRP Melchora Aquino was dispatched to conduct a search operation, aided by good samaritan vessels in the area. No further survivors were found.
On Sunday, the PCG called off the rescue operation and switched to a search and recovery mission. The agency will be working with a contracted salvor to recover the wrecked vessel from the reef.