According to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), a roll-on roll-off/passenger vessel ran aground at approximately 100 meters off the nearest shoreline of Barangay Nasunugan in Banton, Romblon, midnight of 16 July 2023.
he vessel left Lucena Port bound for San Agustin Port, when the incident transpired. Initial information was received from a resident of Barangay Bagacay in Romblon, who informed that his cousin and friend were passengers onboard MV Maria Helena of Montenegro Shipping and was in distress.
Coast Guard Station in Romblon immediately coordinated with its rescue teams. A total of 93 passengers and 36 crew were put into safety. MV Maria Helena ran aground and was observed to be listing 10 degrees to portside due to an imbalance of cargoes and seawater inside the vessel passing through its drainage.
As per Captain Sumocol, the vessel listed due to the explosion of one tire of one of their rolling cargoes onboard, which broke the lashing. The skipper, added that the sea condition was calm, and there were no signs of hull cracks or holes on the vessel. The quartermaster and captain of the vessel remained onboard to assess and monitor the status of the vessel.
Captain Sumocol stated that the vessel has approximately 21,000 liters of marine diesel oil (MDO) remaining onboard. PCG’s Marine Environmental Protection Group in Romblon is on standby for possible oil spill response.
Marine Environment Protection Group-Romblon, together with Coast Guard Sub-Station Banton, monitored the cleanup operation of the crew of MV Maria Helena and was able to collect one drum of oily-water mixture. The oil is contained within the oil spill boom and no sightings of oil slicks were seen.
While the oil spill response team continues to recover the remaining oil on board, Montenegro Shipping Lines Inc. said they would lay additional oil spill booms to further control the spilled oil.