Home » Maritime » PCG exempts int’l carriers from vessel rules during bad weather

THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is excluding international shipping lines from guidelines on vessel movement during inclement weather.

“International carriers are excluded from the new guidelines (as opposed) to our earlier proposal,” the PCG said in the latest public consultation on the policy.

“Since their operations are international in nature, carriers will be covered by regulations promulgated by the IMO (International Maritime Organization) on international going vessels,” PCG added.

Under international guidelines, the shipowner and master of the vessel are responsible for ensuring the safety of the ship during inclement weather.

Under draft PCG guidelines, domestic vessels under 1,000 gross tons will not be allowed to set sail if storm signal number 1 is hoisted along the area of its voyage; all kinds of vessels are barred to sail under storm signal number 2.

The existing policy — contained in Memorandum Circular (MC) 06-08 —bars all shipping lines, including international vessels, within Philippine waters to set sail when storm signal number one or higher is hoisted except when the vessel needs to seek shelter.

The MC was issued after the sinking of the Princess of the Stars under extreme weather conditions on June 21 leaving about 800 people missing and endangering the marine environment because of the ship’s toxic cargo.

Local operators are seeking to refine the guidelines. They propose that vessels with 1,000 gross tons and below be barred from sailing under storm signal number one and those with 2,000 gross tons and below under storm signal number two. When signal number three is hoisted, they agree that no vessel
movement should be allowed at all.

Earlier, the Association of International Shipping Lines sought exemption from the guidelines, stressing serious delays in their commercial operations.

The carriers explained foreign vessels calling Philippine ports — mostly feeders — are sticklers when it comes to schedules to ensure that they connect with the mother vessel at the foreign relay port. Any misconnection to the mother vessel, they said, will cause delays in the arrival of the goods at destination, which will be detrimental to Philippine exporters and to Philippine trade in general.

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