Sulpicio Lines

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Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation
Shipping Line
Industry Travel
Headquarters Don Sulpicio Go Bldg. Sulpicio Go St. North Reclamation Area, Cebu City, Philippines
Area served
Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao Islands
Key people
Carlos Go (General Manager)
Don Sulpicio Go (Founder)

Sulpicio Lines is the common name of Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation (PSACC), a shipping line in the Philippines. Sulpicio Lines' operations was suspended by the Maritime Industry Authority of the Government of the Philippines following the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars in 2008.[1] When it renewed operations, the line had changed its corporate name to "Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation".[1]

Sulpicio Lines owned and operated the MV Doña Paz, which sank duirng the world's worst maritime disaster during peace time on December 20, 1987.[1] 4,375 people lost their lives when the ship struck the oil tanker M/T Vector.[1]

As of August 2013 the company's vessels have figured in five major maritime disasters with a total exceeding 5,000 lives lost.[1]

Maritime disasters[edit]

Maritime disasters involving PSACC include MV Doña Paz on December 20, 1987, MV Doña Marilyn in 1988, MV Princess of the Orient on September 18, 1998, and MV Princess of the Stars on June 21, 2008. The latter three were caused by the vessels setting sail during violent weather conditions.[2]

PSACC currently holds the world record for the worst peacetime maritime disaster due to the sinking MV Doña Paz which is said to have claimed more than 5,000 lives in the Philippines.[1][3]

MV Princess of the Stars, June 2008[edit]

An inflatable boat from the Maritime Prepositioning Ship USNS GYSGT Fred W. Stockham helps search for survivors of the capsized commercial passenger ferry MV Princess of the Stars June 25. The ferry capsized during Typhoon Frank.


Citing "Caltex v PSACC " jurisprudence, the Supreme Court of the Philippines, on July 24, 2008, absolved Caltex Philippines (now Chevron) from any liability in the collision between MV Doña Paz and MT Vector. In a 12-page judgment, Antonio Nachura (3rd Division) opined: “We have meticulously reviewed the records of the case and found no reason to depart from the (CA) rule. We cannot turn a blind eye to this gruesome maritime tragedy which is now a dark page in our nation's history." Vector was ordered to reimburse and indemnify Sulpicio Lines Php 800,000.00, the total amount due the Macasa family whose kin were among the passengers of MV Doña Paz (GR No. 160219, Vector Shipping Corp. v. Macasa, July 21, 2008).[4] In Caltex Philippines, Inc. v. PSACC, 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]

PSACC appealed, on October 22, 2008, Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr.'s dismissal judgment of its P4.45 million damage lawsuit against respondents Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pag-asa) director Prisco Nilo and weather services chief Nathaniel Cruz.[6] Earlier, however, Sulpicio's chief executive officer, Carlos Go, suffered a stroke and was in stable condition at a Cebu City hospital.[7]

Forged contract[edit]

In the MV Princess of the Stars sinking, the company forged a contract with the international firm Titan Salvage Corporation to undertake the retrieval of a cargo of highly toxic chemicals, endosulfan et al., owned by Del Monte Corporation Philippines and Bayer CropScience.[citation needed]

According to an SMS text message sent by Sulpicio Lines Marketing VP Jordan Go to the ABS-CBN newsdesk, the recovery deal (which is valued at US$7.55 Million) which was signed at the Traders Hotel in Manila early in the evening by Sulpicio VP Edgar Go and Titan commercial manager Amit Wahi.[citation needed] Go added that the removal process of the chemicals would take 30 days in 4 stages, and before that there will be an initial mobilization period that could last two to three weeks.[citation needed] "As we committed to the DOTC and Congress, we are proceeding with the priority removal of Del Monte and Bayer's misdeclared cargo without quibbling about the legalities. Our foremost concern is to defuse the environmental time bomb. After this, equally urgent will be the retrieval by divers of bodies of the victims still inside our ill-fated ship," Edgar Go said in a statement released Thursday evening.[citation needed] According to the contract, the next step is the retrieval of remaining bunker oil in the ship simultaneously with the cargo removal. Finally, the shipwreck would be removed from the waters off Romblon.[citation needed]

Board of Marine Inquiry final report[edit]

The 5-member Philippines Board of Marine Inquiry, in its 65-page report dated August 25, 2008 (submitted to the Maritime Industry Authority or Marina), found PSACC and its captain liable for the MV Princess of the Stars June 21 maritime tragedy. The BMI recommended that Marina “consider the suspension of the Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) of Sulpicio Lines in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations (and its criminal liability for the sinking." The final report blamed human error, and ruled that the ship's missing and presumed dead captain, Florencio Marimon, "miscalculated" the risk of continuing the trip to Cebu while the storm raged: "There was a failure of the master to exercise extraordinary diligence and good seamanship thereby committing an error of judgment.The immediate cause of the capsizing of MV Princess of the Stars was the failure of the Master to exercise extraordinary diligence and good seamanship thereby committing an error of judgment that brought MV Princess of the Stars in harm's way into the eye of typhoon Frank or Typhoon Fengshen (2008). It is found negligent for its failure to exercise its duty in ensuring that they transport passengers and cargo safely to (their) destination.”

PSACC said 52 survived the tragedy and 312 bodies were recovered of 825 passengers listed. The rest were declared missing and presumed dead.PSACC may appeal within 30 days, the Board's recommendation to the Maritime Industry Authority (Philippines) and the Department of Transportation. Meanwhile, cargoes of 5 toxic pesticides and other poisonous substances are still on board the ferry and will be refloated on September.[8][9][10][11][12] Sulpicio Lines, the 2nd largest cargo carrier in the Philippines, accounts for 40% of all cargo movement across the country.[13]

Retrieval of bodies and toxic chemicals[edit]

Meanwhile, Task Force Princess of the Stars head Elena Bautista stated that salvage crews from the Titan Salvage and Harbor Star recovered 178 barrels of endosulfan from a 40-foot container van inside the capsized ferry. And on October 5, 2008, divers finished retrieving 402 containers or more than 10 metric tons of endosulfan inside the container van. Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Wilfredo Tamayo stated the divers will thereafter retrieve a smaller Bayer chemical shipment and some 200,000 liters of fuel from the ship.[14][15]

The Philippine Coast Guard reported only 57 survived the maritime tragedy, around 350 bodies had been recovered, while 515 people missing were allegedly trapped inside the capsized vessel.[16] On October 28, 2008, 40 bodies were recovered from Deck C, the vessel's economy section, by 16 divers of salvage group Harbor Star and from the Coast Guard.[17] The NBI's Doctor Bautista said, thereafter, the DNA matching, assisted and funded by the Interpol, would be done in the International Commission for Missing Persons laboratory in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Over 200 bodies were recovered and identified so far.[18] [19] As of November 1, a total of 113 bodies were recovered, the latest from Deck B.[20]

Termination of retrieval and wreck removal[edit]

PCG commandant Vice Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo stated: “The [salvor firm Harbor Star] has informed our officer that they are done. They recovered 199 bodies after they scoured decks C, B and A (during the 2-week retrieval operations from October 26 to November 10, 2008). The number of cadavers extracted from the ship was less than half of the missing passengers. We are not expecting to see 500 bodies. We would be lucky to get half of that. It was likely that some of those who were still missing had jumped from the 23,000-ton ship before giant waves overwhelmed it." Divers, however, failed to enter the engine room, and some areas, due to inaccessibility and danger. The bodies were stored on the MV Tacloban Princess, where a team of forensic doctors from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Interpol were waiting for identification of the bodies in Cebu City and end in the Commission for Missing Persons, in Sarejevo, Bosnia.[21]

The next phase is the 23,000-ton vessel wreck removal by Task Force Princess of the Stars, led by chief Elena Bautista (before the December 8 town fiesta).[22][23]

Collision with the 2Go Travel M/V Thomas Aquinas, August 2013[edit]

Main article: MV St. Thomas Aquinas

On 16 August 2013 at 8:45pm as it approached Cebu City's harbor, the 2Go ferry the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, formerly the SuperFerry 2,[24] collided with the cargo ship the Sulpicio Express Siete of Sulpicio Lines and sank in 144 meters of water off Lauis Ledge Talisay, Cebu.[25] The ship was carrying 831 people—715 passengers and 116 crewmembers.[25] 629 people were rescued immediately. As of 17 August 2013 31 bodies had been recovered, leaving 172 unaccounted for.[25] The Sulpicio Express Siete with 36 crew members on board did not sink and returned safely to port.[25] It had a large hole in its bow above the water line, clearly visible in news photos.[25]

Legal controversies[edit]

Despite figuring in three major maritime disasters in the span of 11 years (from 1987 to 1998) resulting in the deaths of more than 4,500 people, the company was never held liable by the Philippine courts. PSACC has been accused[by whom?] of heavily overloading its ships, such as on MV Doña Paz when only 1,500 people appeared in the ship's manifest out of the 4,500 passengers and crew.[citation needed] As a result, PSACC has been referred to in the press as "Perwisyo (Nuisance) Lines" or "Suspicious Lines."[26]

Docking ports and vessels[edit]

Philippine Span Asia Carrier's main ports of call are the cities of Manila and Cebu. Other ports of call are the cities of Baybay, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Catbalogan, Cotabato, Davao, Dipolog, Dumaguete, General Santos, Iligan, Iloilo, Maasin, Masbate, Ormoc, Ozamis, Puerto Princesa, Surigao, Tacloban, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga. It also include the towns of Calubian, Coron, Estancia, Jagna, Nasipit, Naval and Palompon.

MV Princess of the South, the current flagship of Sulpicio Lines.

Its vessels are:

Passenger Vessels :

Former Vessels:

Princess of the Earth- Sold to Transasia Shipping and now it is called Transasia 10

Cargo Vessels :

Former vessels:


  1. ^ a b c d e f Agence France-Presse (18 August 2013). "Ferry disaster is 5th tragedy for Philippine firm". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Herald Tribune news report
  3. ^ List of accidents and disasters by death toll
  4. ^, PSACC absolves Caltex in MV Doña Paz tragedy
  5. ^, Vector Shipping Ordered to Pay PSACC for 1987 Maritime Tragedy
  6. ^, Court junks PSACC's case vs weathermen
  7. ^, PSACC exec suffers stroke--report
  8. ^, Probe blames captain, company for Philippines ferry disaster
  9. ^, Human error to blame in Philippines ferry disaster: inquiry
  10. ^, Panel blames ship captain, PSACC officials for ferry sinking
  11. ^, PRESS DIGEST - Philippine newspapers - August 27
  12. ^, Sulpicio bucks BMI findings on ‘Princess’ tragedy
  13. ^, ‘License for suspension’
  14. ^ abs-cbnnews, salvors to finish endosulfan retrieval in 4 to 5 days
  15. ^, Endosulfan recovery from ferry finished
  16. ^, Bodies removed from Philippine ship
  17. ^, Recovered bodies from ‘Princess’ now at 36 - Coast Guard
  18. ^, 12 bodies recovered from sunken ferry
  19. ^, 17 more bodies recovered from M/V Princess
  20. ^, Divers recover 113 bodies from wreck of Princess
  21. ^, 199 retrieved bodies from 'Princess' to be turned over to NBI
  22. ^, 199 bodies found
  23. ^, 199 retrieved bodies from 'Princess' to be turned over to NBI
  24. ^ See photo at
  25. ^ a b c d e De Jesus, Julliane (17 August 2013). "40 dead, 172 missing as two ships collide". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Agence France-Presse). Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  26. ^ Suspicious lines -, Philippine News for Filipinos