In a time span of two days, two general cargo vessels sank off Philippines resulting in the death of a seafarer and another one going missing.
The first to mention is the 1982-built, Sea Merchant, sailing under the Philippines flag, that encountered heavy swelling on New Year's Day in Malabrigo Point in Lobo, Batangas (lat.13 29N., long 121 18E.).
The vessel is believed to have been carrying a cargo of 20, 040 bags of cement to Antique from Bauan Port, Philippines. Due to the rough weather conditions consisting of strong winds and large waves, the cement cargo shifted to the starboard side of the ship and thus caused the Sea Merchant to list by 10 degrees.
The chief mate was ordered by the ship master to arrest the list via shifting the ship’s heading. Despite this effort, the 1982 Sea Merchant soon experienced water ingress which resulted in it sinking not long after the chief mate had initiated the distress call at 1600 hours.
The distress call was received by the Vessel Traffic Management System along with the M/T Mactan Island, a tanker ship plying near the area in which the incident occurred.
M/T Mactan Island immediately initiated search and rescue operations and managed to save the lives of 11 seafarers that we onboard a lift raft. The 9 remaining crew members were later rescued on the 2nd of January 2015 by Philippines Coast Guard (PCG) MV Divigracia. Sadly, one of the seafarers that were rescued, passed away shortly and was later, according to the PCG report, identified as the chief engineer of the Sea Merchant.
Meanwhile, general cargo vessel sailing under the Panama flag, Better Trans, sank at 9:18 am local time in the Philippines Sea on the 2nd of January. The ship was built in 1997, its crew consisted of 19 sailors. It sent out a distress call at around 1 am local time, before the crew abandoned the ship and got on the emergency life rafts.
Four hours after the distress signal was issued, 18 were rescued, with one seafarer still missing. Philippines authorities are still investigating the potential causes of the sinking.