Third Trans Asia vessel stalls at sea, returns to Cebu City

Posted on October 14, 2012

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IT was supposed to be the first commercial voyage of MV Asia Philippines, a passenger vessel of Trans Asia, after three months of major repairs.

But a “minor technical problem” experienced at the vicinity of the first Mandaue-Mactan Bridge forced the crew to turn the vessel back to Cebu City’s Pier 4 at past 11 p.m last Friday.

Trans-Asia Shipping HR Manager Abner Llenos said they prioritized the welfare of the 190 passengers who were bound for Iloilo City.

MV Asia Philippines was the third Trans Asia vessel to experience problems while at sea in less than a week.

The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) had just lifted the suspension order of Trans Asia’s entire fleet after two of its vessels, MV Trans Asia 5 and MV Trans Asia 3, stalled at sea last Sunday evening and last Monday dawn respectively.

Cebu Coast Guard Commander Capt. Rolando Punzalan said MV Asia Philippines will not be cleared to sail unless its seaworthiness is certified by Marina.

Cebu Daily News tried but was unable to get Marina’s side on the incident.

Punzalan said MV Asia Philippines left at 6 p.m. last Friday for Iloilo with 190 passengers and 40 officers and crew headed by ship captain Jose de Guzman.

About 45 minutes later, Punzalan said the vessel had steering problems which forced the vessel to drop-anchor.

He said no immediate reason was given but he suspected that it may be due to an electrical problem.

Punzalan said Trans Asia Shipping hired the services of tugboat Gothong Tug 4 to tow the vessel back to Pier 4.

But Llenos said Asia Philippines was able to sail back to Pier 4 on its own.

He said the tugboat just followed the vessel to ensure the safety of the passengers who were provided food upon return.

The passengers were refunded their tickets while the rest chose to sleep inside the vessel, Llenos said.

“It’s steering motor malfunctioned but as to why it happened, that’s still subject to our investigation”, Llenos said.

After repairs, he said the vessel underwent a sea trial and inspected by Marina which certified its seaworthiness.

Llenos said the trips of other Trans Asia vessels are normal, except for Trans Asia 5 which stalled off Naga City sea due to engine trouble.

He said they have yet to receive any directive from Marina. /Jhunnex Napallacan, Correspondent

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