The Special Board of Marine Inquiry looking into the sinking of the tanker Solar 1 blamed the incident on overloading, bad weather and an incompetent ship captain.
The findings of the board were released Thursday by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
DOTC Secretary Leandro R. Mendoza said the Solar 1’s captain, Norberto Aguro, the ship’s owner Sunshine Maritime Corp. and Petron are to be held liable for the sinking of the tanker that has resulted in the country’s worst environmental disaster.
“Based on the findings of the SBMI, the master of the ship and the Sunshine Maritime is administratively liable for the vessels sinking. I have ordered their suspension,” Mendoza said.
Petron, who contracted the tanker, “is liable for overloading the vessel and rendering it unseaworthy,” he said.
Determining the civil and criminal liability is a matter for the Department of Justice, Mendoza said. The board has also furnished the justice department with a detailed report of its findings.
Mendoza said the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Coast Guard committed lapses in performing their functions.
He said he had directed Marina to file the appropriate charges against the ship’s master, Sunshine Maritime Corp. and Petron Corp. “I have also directed the creation of an independent maritime commission to be headed by Undersecretary Cecilio Penila of Transportation Security. They have 30 days to look further into the institutional and individual lapses and deficiencies of Marina and the PCG,” he said.
The board said the ship suffered from a “loss of reserve buoyancy” because it was overloaded by approximately 150 tons, as determined from the ship’s load line, or the free space a vessel must maintain for safety.