Sulpicio Lines passenger fleet suspended in full

THE Philippines authorities have found deficiencies with seven other passenger vessels belonging to Sulpicio Lines.

The fleet of Sulpicio Lines has been suspended pending investigation since the 24-year old 23,824 gt Princess of the Stars capsized in a typhoon on 21 June leaving over 800 dead or missing.

Maritime Industrial Authority deputy administrator for operations Col. Primo Rivera said that seven passenger vessels in Sulpicio’s fleet had been inspected and ordered that the owner comply with its recommendations before they were allowed to sail, local media reported.

"The recommendation of inspection audit is to check whether the technical aspect has already been addressed," he said. No details on the deficiencies found were given.

Meanwhile the company’s lawyer, Arthur Lim, continued to call for vessels that had been inspected to be allowed to sail again.

"Our prayer is that investigation be done expeditiously because we have commitments and bookings,” he said.

The company had initially continued to sell tickets after the Princess of the Stars capsized.

Sulpicio Lines also maintains that its vessels should be suspended on an individual basis, not as an entire fleet. At present only the company’s eight cargo vessels are allowed to sail, with its entire passenger fleet suspended by Marina.

Sulpicio Lines had initially blamed the Princess of the Stars tragedy on an act of God but has now turned its attention to Philippine Atmospheric and Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration. It is suing the administration claiming a late weather forecast led to the vessel heading into a typhoon and it sinking.

“PAGASA caused the vessel to sail into the jaws of death,” said Mr Lim.

The company is seeking Peso2.5m in moral damages, while the Go family that owns the line is seeking Peso500,000 in moral damages.