A cargo barge carrying sand from Negros Oriental was “intentionally” run aground off the coast of Barangay Bilisan, Panglao on Sunday dawn due to poor weather and strong currents on Saturday afternoon, July 2, 2016.
Captain Andrew Barte of Castor ll told DYRD “Inyong Alagad” that the barge which was towed by a tugboat was buffeted by strong winds, big waves and strong currents when he deliberately made the decision to run aground the barge to save the cargo.
The barge eventually capsized after it was listing to starboard or the right side of the barge on Monday at approximately 4AM, according to Barte.
The 19 crew members are safe and well, according to Barte.
Castor ll, operated by Concrete Solutions Inc. based in Cebu City with a gross tonnage of 1,935 was reported listing to its starboard side by the ship welder at the vicinity of Dulho point in Panglao after leaving Tampi port in Barangay San Jose, Negros Oriental last Sunday.
With P700,000.00 worth of sand consigned to a local businessman on its cargo hold, Barte told “Inyong Alagad” that when the barge became uncontrollable, the decision to run aground the foundering barge was reached.
Barte allayed fears of environmental damage since estimated size of the area affected is only 100 sq, meters.
The risk of an oil spill is also non-existent since the barge was not self-propelled but towed by a tugboat.
Philippine Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Benjie Penision of the Coast Guard Station in Tagbilaran City said that “at this stage it is unknown how much damage has been done to the reef and marine life at the site where the barge capsized”.
Salvage operations to refloat the barge is now being mulled by the barge operator that would take two months.
The barge position was not considered by the barge captain as a maritime hazard. (Chito M. Visarra with reports from Jun Gutierrez)