MT Vector

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The Vector was an oil tanker chartered by Caltex Philippines, now Chevron that collided with MV Doña Paz on December 20, 1987 at Tablas Strait between the islands of Mindoro and Tablas, killing 4,341.


M/T Vector, owned by Vector Shipping, Inc., at that time was on a charter voyage for Caltex Philippines, now Chevron.[1]

The Vector's cargo ignited and caused a fire that rapidly spread onto the Doña Paz, which sank within minutes. Only two crew members survived the Vectors sinking, while their 11 co-workers lost their lives, but all the Dona Pazs 58 crew members did not survive the fatal collision (and subsequent sinking). The official death toll on the ferry is 1,565, although some reports claim that the ferry was overcrowded and that the true death toll is over 4,000. The ships would put the death toll at 4,375 although admitting that only 1,568 were on the manifest (still more than the licensed maximum of 1,518). The 21 (or 24) survivors from the ferry had to swim, as there was no time to launch lifeboats.[2]

An inquiry later revealed that the crew of the Vector was underqualified and that the boat's license had expired.

Details of the collision between M/V Doña Paz & M/T Vector[edit]

On December 19, 1987, motor tanker MT Vector left Limay, Bataan, at about 8:00 p.m., en route to Masbate, loaded with 8,800 barrels of petroleum products shipped by petitioner Caltex. MT Vector is a tramping motor tanker owned and operated by Vector Shipping Corporation, engaged in the business of transporting fuel products such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel and crude oil. During that particular voyage, the MT Vector carried on board gasoline and other oil products owned by Caltex by virtue of a charter contract between them.

On December 20, 1987, at about 6:30 a.m., the passenger ship MV Doña Paz left the port of Tacloban headed for Manila with a complement of 59 crew members including the master and his officers, and passengers totaling 1,493 as indicated in the Coast Guard Clearance. The MV Doña Paz is a passenger and cargo vessel owned and operated by Sulpicio Lines, Inc. plying the route of Manila/ Tacloban/ Catbalogan/ Manila/ Catbalogan/ Tacloban/ Manila, making trips twice a week.

At about 10:30 p.m. of December 20, 1987, the two vessels collided in the open sea within the vicinity of Dumali Point between Marinduque and Oriental Mindoro. All the crew members of MV Doña Paz died, while the two survivors from MT Vector claimed that they were sleeping at the time of the incident.

As the two vessels collided, MT Vector's cargo of fuel and oil was set ablaze and spilled into the surrounding waters, causing much of the deaths of the crew and passengers of both ships.

The MV Doña Paz carried an estimated 4,000+ passengers; many indeed, were not in the passenger manifest. Only 24 survived the tragedy after having been rescued from the burning waters by vessels that responded to distress calls. [3]


Vector Shipping was found liable for the crash, while the parent company, Caltex was absolved of responsibility. In a judgement on July 24, 2008, The Supreme Court of the Philippines absolved Caltex Philippines (now Chevron) from any liability in the collision between MV Doña Paz and MT Vector. The decision affirmed the Court of Appeals' ruling against Vector Shipping and its owner Francisco Soriano.[4] Vector was ordered to reimburse and indemnify Sulpicio Lines Php 800,000.00. This was the total amount due the Macasa family whose kin were among the passengers of MV Doña Paz.[4] The Court ruled that "MT Vector was unseaworthy at the time of the accident and that its negligence was the cause of the collision that led to the sinking of the Sulpicio vessel."[5]

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