In Odette aftermath, ships allowed to sail, some airports reopen

Operations of Lipata port, which sustained heavy damages due to typhoon Odette, remain suspended. Photo from Philippine Ports Authority.
  • Ships unaffected by typhoon Odette are now being allowed to sail by the Maritime Industry Authority
  • Key Department of Transportation agencies ordered to ramp up rescue and relief efforts in areas devastated by the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year
  • The Philippine Coast Guard is deploying ships to assist in rescue and relief operations
  • Airport operations starting to be restored

Key agencies of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) are ramping up rescue and relief efforts in areas devastated by Odette, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year.

Ships unaffected by Odette are now being allowed to sail; limited airport operations are also being conducted.

Since December 18, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has deployed ships to assist in rescue and relief operations in heavily affected areas: Dinagat Islands, Siargao Island and Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur in Mindanao, as well as in the Central Visayas, and in the Eastern Visayas.

In coordination with shipping companies, PCG called an emergency meeting on December 18 for the recovery of vessels that ran aground or were sunk at the Cebu City Pier and in the Mandaue area.

In addition, PCG deployed its Cessna plane for an aerial inspection of Kabangkalan City in Negros Occidental as well as its Parola-class patrol vessels to deliver communication and relief items.

The Parola-class patrol vessel BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) was sent to survey aground vessels in Loon, Bohol.

BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) and BRP Cape San Agustin (MRRV-4408) are delivering relief goods to Mindanao. The Cape San Agustin proceeded to Surigao to deliver relief items from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Another Parola-class patrol vessel, the BRP Bagacay (MRRV-4410) was sent to Davao to transport relief items.

BRP Tubbataha (MRRV-4401), the lead ship of PCG’s Parola-class patrol vessels, has left for Cebu bringing relief items, fuel, communication equipment, and oil spill dispersants as requested by the Coast Guard District Central Visayas.

Also deployed was the older Ilocos Norte-class patrol boat BRP Nueva Vizcaya (SARV 3502) to deliver DSWD relief goods to Negros Island.

PCG Commandant Admiral Leopoldo Laroya said BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), an offshore patrol vessel and currently, the largest and most modern vessel of the Coast Guard, will depart at noon on December 19 to deliver relief items to Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, the Dinagat Islands, Siargao Island, Southern Leyte, Cebu, and Bohol.

Priority shipping

The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) has called on shipowners to prioritize the transport of needed relief goods.

In a command conference late December 18, MARINA Administrator Robert Empedrad directed MARINA regional directors to coordinate with shipowners whose ships were unaffected by the typhoon to resume operations and to prioritize carriage of relief operations.

“Shipowners may also coordinate with concerned MARINA regional directors for the possible deployment of their ships to affected areas and to transport relief goods and for other related concerns,” Empedrad said during the meeting.

He directed MARINA safety engineers to assess the condition of ships as soon as possible and ensure that they are seaworthy and that their Certificates of Public Convenience, Special Permit or other authority to Operate are valid before they are authorized to sail.

The MARINA Regional Office in Surigao City will temporarily conduct operations in its extension office in Butuan City beginning December 20, 2021, while waiting for repair of its regional headquarters.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade instructed the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to provide stranded passengers with light meals and to ensure their safety and convenience during their stay at the ports and terminals.

According to PPA’s latest advisory, the following ports have resumed operations as of December 18, 3pm:

  • Port Management Office (PMO) Bicol – All ports except Port of Legazpi
  • PMO Western Leyte/Biliran – All ports except Port of Maasin
  • PMO Lanao Del Norte/Iligan – All ports
  • PMO Masbate – All ports
  • PMO Batangas – All ports
  • PMO Marinduque/Quezon – All ports
  • PMO Misamis Oriental/Cagayan De Oro – All ports
  • PMO Negros Occidental/Bacolod/Banago – All ports
  • PMO Panay/Guimaras – All ports except Ports of Buruangua, Antique-San Jose Buenavista, Dumaguit, Estancia, Caticlan
  • PMO Davao – All ports
  • PMO Zamboanga Del Norte – All ports
  • PMO Misamis Occidental/Ozamiz – All ports
  • PMO Agusan – Port of Nasipit, Port of Masao (partial operations), Port of Butuan (banca operations still suspended)
  • PMO Eastern Leyte/Samar – All ports except Ports of Liloan and San Ricardo

Operations of Lipata port in Surigao, which sustained heavy damages in its passenger terminal building and pier, remain suspended.

Container yard and vessel operations at Cebu International Port have resumed as of December 18, according to cargo-handling operator Oriental Port & Allied Services Corporation. However, vessel operations using shore crane are still affected as electricity from Visayan Electric Company, Inc. was not yet available as of December 18.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport resumed limited domestic flight operations on December 19. Passengers are urged to get in touch with their airlines for the re-timing of their flight schedule.

Flights for cargo, emergency, humanitarian, and military are allowed to ensure unhampered delivery of relief assistance and operations.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has begun efforts to restore airport operations in areas affected by Odette.

CAAP Director General Jim Sydiongco said he will head a technical team composed of heads of the Aerodrome Development and Management Service, Air Traffic and Air Navigation which will assess repair works needed at the Siargao, Surigao, Maasin and Mactan airports from December 19-20.

Sydiongco said the inspection team will deliver communication equipment to restore coordination at typhoon-affected airports. In addition, CAAP, he said, is now exploring sources to fund airport repairs, including possible fund realignment.