Today, Philippine authorities announced that they’d filed charges against the captain and three officers from a bulk carrier that collided with a fishing boat. During a press briefing yesterday, the Philippine Coast Guard reported completing an initial investigation. The authorities had decided to press charges again the officers of the Happy Hiro, a 32,600 dwt bulker registered in the Marshall Islands. The Coast Guard also reported that it was moving into a search and recovery effort after finding only debris and no signs of the seven missing crewmembers from the fishing boat.
Amir Meshay, the Croatian captain of the vessel, along with the second officer in command, George Antonie, a citizen of Romania, and two Filipino officers from the ship are being prosecuted in court. The Coast Guard reported they are currently facing the charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicides, multiple injuries, and damage to properties.”
The collision occurred on May 28 when the bulker passed through the Philippines to get to Australia, one of the main shipping lanes. After interviewing the surviving members of the collision and onlookers from various nearby vessels, The fishing boat was experiencing engine troubles earlier in the day. It was anchored when crewmember aboard noticed the approaching Happy Hiro. During the initial investigation, the Coast Guard said after an underwater examination of the “580-foot vessel revealed scraps and marks consistent with the ship having hit and sailed over the fishing boat.”
As they awakened their fellow crewmates for help, the bulker moved faster than anticipated. The thirteen survivors were inflicted with cuts and bruises, with one crew member obtaining a head injury. They were retrieved from the water by another fishing boat in the area. Seven bodies are still missing.
The Philippine Coast Guard, assisted by the Navy, searched the area covering an estimated 600 square miles. They found various pieces of debris believed to be from the fishing boat but no signs of the missing crewmembers. However, severe weather, such as heavy rain and high waves, has delayed the search efforts.
According to the Coast Guard, the bulker was operating with only one officer on the bridge, and he would have had blind spots where he couldn’t see items in front of the vessel based on interviews and a review of the log. The Coast Guard and Navy have also issued a court order to detain the bulker indefinitely pending an ongoing investigation with the Maritime Industry Authority.
The Happy Hiro transported the survivors of the wrackage toward shore and later transferred them to a Coast Guard vessel. The bulker was directed to proceed to an anchorage,