Ships now run aground but the City Government seem not to care!

In the past I have spoken about Maritime safety and ships running aground in the area and the dangers that these problems can cause. Even a small  Sea Mount called Takut Kabu in General Santos which is very close to the Petron Fuel Depot Pier is a real Danger for the City but still it is being ignored.

We have had the 2 major groundings of large sea going vessels in the last 3 years out on Bakud Reef, both of these ships were Captained and Crewed by Philippino’s so the danger is very real to the General Santos area. If these Maritime Experts can manage to hit a very large and clearly visible reef in open ocean then whats to stop them from finding and running aground on a small reef that is not usually visible and is only 3meters deep on a low tide.

Headless diver stood in gauge made by the last ship that ran aground.

There are quite  few people in the area who are very worried about the situation with the ships moving within the bay quite simply because of the very poor safety record in the last few years, but not the City Government.

Product from the Fish Port.

When you think of General Santos and Sarangani Bay, a lot of people make their living from its waters and an oil spill is the last thing that is required here.

We have the fish landing here, plenty of export fish are traded ever day here. There are several fish canaries here which export their goods all over the world. There are many fish and prawn farms all around the bay area who use the waters from the bay in their growing process. There are floating fish cages where several species of fish are cultured and many small fishermen make their living gathering the bounty of the waters of the bay.

Oil covered coastline!

Just a few weeks ago, a good sized ship actually ran aground on Takut Kabu and cut a trench nearly 3 meters deep, the ship had to be pulled of as it was stuck fast. This Sea Mount is only about 300 meters from the Petron Pier and very near to a new fishing company pier constructed by a very large international fishing company so if ships were to run aground leaving either of these two facilities there would probably not be sufficient room to get ships in to tow the stranded ship off from the direction it went aground..

Fish would suffocate and die in large numbers.

An oil spill of any size would be a disaster to the area because the bay has a smaller mouth so currents tend to be circular so that any oil spill would go round and round the bay not missing any fore shore and any infrastructure.

There is oil spill containment equipment at the Petron Depot but all of it would easily fit onto the back of a small pickup so basically it would be quite useless in any attempt to contain an oil spill.

If we had an oil spill I am sure that many of the international companies who buy the export quality fish would think twice about continuing to do business even if the fish are not caught locally, they have their clients and reputations to think about.

Sea Birds would be covered in oil and die wiyhout help.

The Floating Fish Cage Industry would be totally wiped out  and most if not all of the on shore fish ponds would be unable to continue doing business.

The poor fishermen would probably keep on fishing if possible and would put contaminated fish into the local food chain causing probable health problems.

Local Wild Life would be affected as sea birds would be covered with oil. There are Marine Turtles, Dugongs, Dolphins and Whales which live in the bay, all these have to come to the surface to breath. Where would the money come from to clean up such a mess?

Oil on the water, Yuk!

Takut Kabu is only a very small Sea Mount which could easily be marked off using 3 or 4 buoys, we marked it before but the buoys were lost as big fishing boats would tie up to them until they broke away.

Unfortunately the powers that be still do not seem to care about this problem, the cost of producing buoys would be very minimal and in fact they could probably get donations of buoys and chains from the local fishing companies. Anchor blocks are very easy to produce.

There is a good probability that no accident will happen and the bay will stay safe but there is also a small possibility that an accident will happen so would it not be a good investment for the city to make basic precautions to minimise the chances and prevent such accidents before they happen, I think so anyway!


Post Author: GenSan Chris (152 Posts)

Chris Dearne, aka "GenSan Chris" is a long term resident of the Philippines. Chris has been living in General Santos City since 1992! Chris owns a hotel in General Santos called Cambridge Farm Hotel, and also the Cambridge Dive Center, formerly Tuna City Scuba Center. Chris' interests include Scuba Diving, Instructing, and Formula 1 Racing.

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  1. Mark G. says

    That sounds like a very precarious situation Chris. I notice up here by Calbayog City, Samar they use what looks like bamboo poles stuck in the water with various color banners flying off them. Of course the banners are faded and off white mostly but at least it’s a low tech way of alerting folks to the hazard. There are a couple of lighted permanent markers on some shoals near the islands but truthfully they look like something the Spanish erected and God only knows the last time the lights worked, lol. Either way we don’t have the kind of vessels your describing coming any where near here although a US Navy Hospital ship does visit every now and again. (I’ve never seen it myself) How can you alert the folks in city gov’t to the dangers? Aren’t the most recent groundings enough to give them a clue they could be headed for an environmental and economic disaster? While they may not want to hear about the environmental part they probably would pay attention to the economic part if they are heavily invested in any of the aquacultuire happening there. Threaten their pocket books and they may perk up. Can you post this article in a letter to the editor in GenSan or something?

    • GenSan Chris says

      Hi Mark,
      We have tried all kinds of ways to get the people in power to think about the danger but they do not listen. We have put out matker buoys also but they get stolen within a few days!

  2. peterjoy says

    A good posting mate and saddly ppl just dont care as long as it is not in there back gadden and thay canot see it or need to do soem think about it is just too hard for them mate and this is what

    i say too that get off ur bums and get out there and do somethink about it ok……..peter martin

    • GenSan Chris says

      Hi Peter,
      Very rue what you say, out of site and out of mind. They do not care as hey have the job already!

  3. John Miele says


    It is unfortunate that these were local ships and that, therefore, IMO and SOLAS rules are inapplicable.

    One of the biggest maritime safety issues here has been that the Coast Guard is under the Department of Transportation, rather than the military (And something like 90% of funding goes to roads). Things should get somewhat better in the next year since the Coast Guard will become its’ own department with its’ own budget. I was recently at the CG headquarters and I can tell you with 100% certainty that the personnel there are frustrated about being tasked with such issues but having their hands tied. (I was told, “We have only 6,000 personnel, and 8,000 islands to handle… an impossible task”… and I agree)

    As to the present problem, it would take the large fishing companies, like Rivera and some of the others, pushing the local government to provide the buoys. Unfortunately, my gut says that nothing will be done until a major spill occurs (The North Korean bulker sat in Pagudpud Bay for over a year).

    I told the CG officers about a recent story that happened in Indonesia…

    The chief of the rescue service there got tired of pulling dead bodies from the water due to lack of life preservers. He secured funding to provide the small fishermen several life preservers per boat, free of charge (The government paid). These were distributed at a cost of several million dollars….Enough for every small commercial boat in several fishing ports where there were problems.

    Six months after distribution, he went to the port and noticed the new, bright orange, floats on the fishing nets. The ship owners cut the life jackets up into floats, rather than keeping them onboard for emergency use. (The CG officers commented that the same thing would happen here)

    The point is that things are slow to change and it is extremely frustrating when idiocy like this occurs. In Indonesia, good intentions essentially came to nought. Until political pressure is substantial, unlikely until a major disaster happens, selling prevention and changing attitudes is a tough sell until a politician’s neck is in the noose.

  4. Gary Wigle says

    This is happening all over the world Chris. There is really nothing the City government can do. Somehow the ship’s captain must be the one to prevent running aground. What do you do when he falls asleep at the wheel??

    • GenSan Chris says

      Hi Gary,
      This happens everywhere but I really do not want it happening here but I am a small fish and can do nothing about it!

  5. Bryan G says

    It appears to be a cultural problem – there is absolutely no preventative maintenance in the country – the philosophy is fix it when it breaks – why spend money when you dont have to? Another example is the drainage system in Manila – the rains come,the place gets flooded and comes to a standstill then the authorities have a drain cleaning programme that would have prevented the flooding in the first place!

    • GenSan Chris says

      Hi john,
      I agree with you, the Coast Guard cannot do anything, the Philippine Maritime Police are too busy making money from fishing boats to be bothere about safety! Even now, a Korean Boat was anchored by the stern right in front of the City at Lion Beach when the tide turned and the bow ran aground crushing several of our reef domes and scattering several others killing about 5 years of coral growth! What a bunch of tossers!

    • GenSan Chris says

      Hi Bryan,
      Maybe its the old thing, where there is muck there is money! Maybe its better for something torun aground so the powers can make money leaning it up!

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