Cargo ship crew face charges over collision that sank fishing boat off Palawan, Philippines

Happy Hiro (Photo: Philippine Coast Guard)

The Philippine Coast Guard has filed charges against four crewmembers of a foreign-flagged commercial vessel in connection with a collision incident that led to the loss of a fishing boat in the western part of the country late last week.

On Wednesday, June 1, coast guard commandant Admiral Artemio Abu told local media that charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, multiple injuries, and damage to property have been filed against the Croatian captain, the Romanian second officer, and two Filipino officers of the Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel Happy Hiro.

The cargo ship collided with the fishing vessel JOT-18 off Palawan province’s Maracanao Island on Saturday, May 28. The smaller fishing vessel then capsized and sank, and all 20 of its crew ended up in the water.

Only 13 of the fishing boat’s crew have been rescued. Abu, however, said that search and retrieval operations will continue to attempt to locate the seven missing sailors as they are not yet presumed dead.

The coast guard filed the charges with the local prosecutor’s office in nearby Antique province after an investigation revealed Happy Hiro struck JOT-18 while the latter vessel was at anchor.

Abu added that the cargo vessel is presently prohibited from leaving Philippine waters and may even be detained depending on the decision of the local courts.

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