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I-TEAM REPORT: The last moments of Solar I

September 25, 2006

THERE WERE UNSPEAKABLE moments of horror as the crew valiantly but vainly tried to stop the MT Solar I from swaying violently from side to side in stormy seas before the oil tanker gave up the ghost, flipped over, and slowly sank to its chilly grave 630 meters on the sea floor south of Guimaras Island.

This chilling but heroic tale of bravery and tragedy at sea was pieced together by experts on board the Shinsei Maru, a Japanese research ship commissioned by Petron Corp. to send a remote-operated vehicle (ROV) to the Solar I’s final resting place to figure out what happened and what to do next.

The last moments of the Solar I were put together by experts from the firm, London Offshore Consultants Pte. Ltd., who interviewed the crew of the ill-fated tanker and reviewed video footage of the sunken ship taken by the ROV submersible. A copy of the report was made available to the Inquirer.

The Solar I was loaded with 2.19 million liters of industrial fuel oil from Petron when it departed Bataan on Aug. 10 on its way to Zamboanga del Sur. The tanker experienced heavy seas and sought shelter north of Guimaras in the early hours of Aug. 11.

The report:

“On inspection, damage was found on the [bow] resulting in [water entering] the motor room, cargo gear room … and the chain lockers … Repairs were [done] including the sealing of [an] air pipe by inserting a wooden plug into the open pipe.

(For the full story, click Last moments, Sept. 25, 2006.)

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