Tug assistance compulsory at PH port of Surigao

Port of Surigao managed by the Philippine Ports Authority. Photo from PPA website.
Port of Surigao managed by the Philippine Ports Authority. Photo from PPA website.
Port of Surigao managed by the Philippine Ports Authority. Photo from PPA website.

From January 14, all foreign and domestic vessels of at least 500 gross registered tonnage (GRT) which dock and undock at the baseport of Surigao and other government ports under the port management office (PMO) of Surigao are required to secure tug assistance.

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said the compulsory tug assistance is “to protect government port facilities and to ensure the safe maneuvering of vessels” at ports under PMO Surigao.

According to PPA Administrative Order (AO) No. 08-2015, the port authority will authorize shipping companies or private entities to provide tug assistance service on a non-exclusive basis.

The AO was signed by recently resigned PPA general manager Atty Juan Sta Ana and received by the Records Division of PPA on December 23, 2015.It was published in a national newspaper on December 30, 2015.

Under the order, for an operator to be able to provide tug assistance near the harbor, it must have, in addition to the requirements of other agencies, an annual permit issued by PPA. Exempt are tugboats that are used “solely for (towing) their own barges/lighters”.

“The tugboat operator shall provide the equipment needed to render efficient service,” the AO said.

Tug assistance requirements will be determined based on the GRT of vessels and the capacity in horsepower (HP)of tugs. Under AO 08-2015, vessels with 500 GRT to 3,000 GRT must be serviced by a 750 HP to 999 HP tugboat; 3,001 GRT to 10,000 GRT, by one 1,000 HP to 1,499 HP; 10,001 GRT to 15,000 GRT, by two 750 HP to 999 HP; 15,001 GRT to 20,000 GRT, by two 1,000 HP to 1,400 HP; and 20,001 GRT and above, by two 1,500 HP to 2,000 HP.

Vessels whose functioning bow and stern thrusters have both been inspected and verified by PPA to be of sufficient capacity are exempt from the capacity requirements unless the master of the vessel opts to avail of tug services. On the other hand, PPA said vessels with functional bow thrusters only are required to have 50% of the required HP.

Non-propelled vessels and barges/lighters are likewise exempt from the capacity requirement. However, they are still required to maintain their own tugboats at berth in accordance with PPA Memorandum Circular No. 22-86.

PPA will prescribe the fees and rates for tug assistance. “Accordingly, per consultation with the local port stakeholders the rates chargeable shall be determined by negotiation and are mutually agreed upon by and between the shipping company and the tugboat operators,” PPA noted.

Should negotiations fail, PPA said it may be requested to determine and prescribe the rates.

PMO Surigao, which is under the Port District Office of Northern Mindanao, has jurisdiction over various ports in the provinces of Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and the Dinagat Islands in Mindanao.