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“Bridging the Islands”

June 23rd, 2008

“Sulpicio Lines, Inc. has acquired a quality system which meets the requirements of the International Quality Assurance Management Standard ISO 9002 (1994) and the International Maritime Organization’s ISM Code of “Safe Operation of Ships and Pollution Prevention” on June 18, 1999 and July 17, 1999, respectively. Sulpicio Lines, Inc. is the first domestic shipping company to obtain two international accreditation at the same time.”from Sulpicio Lines Website

December 20, 1987, the worst “peace time” sea disaster happened in the Philippines. The MV Doña Paz, collided with a Caltex-hired oil tanker, MT Vector, at Tablas Strait dividing Mindoro and Marinduque, an inter-island route wide enough for both vessels to pass. The tragedy left 4,000 people dead and only 26 people rescued. The Owner of the ship is Sulpicio Lines. On Oct. 29, 1988, the Board of Marine Inquiry “absolved” Sulpicio Lines of any responsibility.

Less than a year after this incident, on October 24, 1988, another vessel of Sulpicio Lines, the Doña Marilyn, capsized. The vessel was allowed to sail even a Storm Signal No. 3 for typhoon “Unsang” was already raised. This disaster left at least 250 people dead. The Board of Maritime Inquiry concluded later that it was a force majeure or “an act of God.” According to the Maritime Board, no one is responsible for the death of 250 people.

Ten years later, on September 18, 1998, Sulpicio Line’s largest ship, the MV Princess of the Orient was sanked by yet another typhoon, “Gading.” Once Again, the ship was allowed to sail even when storm signals were already raised. At least 150 were confirmed dead. In September 2000,Department of Justice junked the criminal case against Sulpicio Lines in connection with the sinking of the Princess of the Orient, saying the shipping firm could not be held criminally liable for the death of scores of passengers.

Now, ten years after, on June 22, 2008, another of Sulpicio Line’s ship, MV Princess of the Stars met the same exact fate. It was allowed to sail in the midst of typhoon “Frank” and like ten years before, the ship capsized. The ship’s manifest declared 725 passengers and as of this writing, only 28 of them were already rescued.

Based on results of previous investigations, it looks like we can already make a good educated guess about the verdict on the MV Princess of the Stars tragedy – No one will be blamed, and it was yet another “act of God.”

These disasters involving Sulpicio Lines simply defies statistical probability. As it is said that it is safer to ride a certain transport liner that has been recently struck by disaster. Because there is greater probability that it would take another 50-100 years before the same disaster will befall the same transport liner again. But this probability does not apply to Sulpicio Lines. It takes only ten years for the same exact disaster to happen again.

Four major maritime disasters, and according to the manifest in Davy Jone’s locker, there are now 4,400 souls and counting, credited to Sulpicio Lines. Yet, not once was Sulpicio Lines made accountable to all these. There must be some dark powers that Sulpicio Lines has in order to get scot-free from all these mess.

Just wondering, do you know which shipping company the Flying Dutchman belongs?

*Data taken from: Philippine Daily Inquirer

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