Vienna Wood crew members ordered to remain in Philippines

All 20 crew members of Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship MV Vienna Wood (IMO 9593713) have been ordered to remain in the country as part of a criminal case being brought against the merchant vessel and its shipping company for the sinking of the fishing vessel Liberty 5 on June 27th, with 14 Filipino crew and passengers still missing (IMN July 8th 2020).

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman Commodore Armando Balilo said that a hold departure order (HDO) had been issued by a local court against all 20 crew members of the ship following petitions from the PCG and Irma Fishing and Trading Co, the company that owns FV Liberty 5.

Initially, he said Judge Ulysses Delgado of the Regional Trial Court Branch 44 in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro granted an HDO against the seven primary respondents in the case — namely ship captain Zhang Wei Wei, third officer Shi Bin, second officer Yi Lei, chief officer Yang Xifeng, Fan Qoujin, Xia Zhen, and Wang Xingtu.

However, he said Irma’s petition for an HDO for all 20 crew members of MV Vienna Wood was later granted by the court after it was consolidated with the PCG’s case.

Currently the defendants — who will all be facing a criminal complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and damage to property, along with shipping company Nomikos Transworld Maritime — were detained at the Batangas Port, said Balilo,

Following the granting of the HDO, PCG commandant Vice Admiral George Ursabia Jr. said he considered the development  to be a sign of significant progress in resolving the incident. “With the granting of the Hold Departure Order against MV Vienna Wood, rest assured that the PCG will continue to monitor the legal proceedings, while seaborne patrol operations are ongoing to locate the missing fishermen and passengers of FV Liberty 5. We will not stop until this issue is resolved,” Ursabia said.

2011-built, Hong Kong-flagged, 31,540 gt Vienna Wood is owned by Leo Navigation Inc care of manager AM Nomikos Transworld Maritime Agencies SA of Athens, Greece. It is entered with UK Club (Area Group Piraeus H1) on behalf of Leo Navigation Inc.