Princess Empress did not have permission to sail: report

The Philippines inter-island oil products carrier Princess Empress (MMSI 548372700) was not in possession of the correct paperwork it needed in order to be allowed to sail, according to reports.

The Philippines-flagged vessel, which sank with 800,000 litres of industrial fuel oil on February 28th when off the island of Mindoro, sparked the biggest environmental crisis seen in the Philippines for many years, and the first significant oil carrier sinking globally for some time.

The oil was now spreading across the centre of the archipelago, with the booms ineffective against oil coming out of the ship at a depth of 400 metres.

Hernani Fabia, administrator of the country’s Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), said in a senate hearing earlier this week that the ship did not have a permit to operate before it headed on its final voyage. The senate hearing also heard that the ship had travelled on nine previous voyages without the right paperwork.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Manila has warned that it did not think it would be able to stop the oil seepage from the sunken vessel.

Philippines authorities have increased efforts to contain the spill, the environment ministry said on Tuesday. Improvised spill booms made from cogon grass and coconut materials were helping to restrict oil leaking from the sunken vessel, the ministry said.

“The use of improvised spill booms is a feasible precautionary measure to prevent damage to marine environments,” it said.

A Philippines senate panel on Tuesday match 14th opened an inquiry into the incident, with legislators demanding that the tanker owner, RDC Reield Marine Services Inc, participate in the clean-up drive and extend immediate financial aid to affected communities.