The sunken Motor Tanker (MT) PRINCESS EMPRESS, carrying about 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil, was detected through one of the NAMRIA survey vessels—Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) HYDROGRAPHER VENTURA.
NAMRIA, being an attached agency of the DENR, engaged in the search for the ill-fated vessel through the prompt directives of NAMRIA Administrator, Usec. Peter N. Tiangco, PhD. BRP HYDROGRAPHER VENTURA, with additional manpower support from the other survey vessels of NAMRIA—BRP HYDROGRAPHER PRESBITERO, BRP HYDROGRAPHER HIZON, and BRP HYDROGRAPHER PALMA—wasted no time and acted accordingly.
On 04 March at 0700H, BRP HYDROGRAPHER VENTURA sailed out of Subic Bay and reached the search area by about 0135H of the following day. Data acquisition was immediately conducted but was suspended at 0341H due to worsening sea conditions. Even with rough seas and wind speed up to 40 knots, the command was still able to gather data covering about 7.5 sq km of area. Initial data processing and analysis showed a feature with dimensions almost conforming with that of the missing vessel. A report was then submitted to the NAMRIA Administrator through proper channels.
BRP HYDROGRAPHER VENTURA returned to the area on 08 March after sea conditions became favorable to collect more data for clearer visualization. The search operation was concluded on 09 March 2023.
The detected feature was approximately 7.5 nautical miles from Balingawan Pt., Oriental Mindoro with a water depth of about 400 meters. It was around 51 meters in length, with a breadth of 12 meters, and a maximum height of about 11 meters. It was later confirmed by the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Hakuyo as MT PRINCESS EMPRESS on 21 March 2023, attesting to the report of BRP HYDROGRAPHER VENTURA.
BRP HYDROGRAPHER VENTURA, under the command of LCdr Danilo A Arguelles, Jr, was composed of 13 officers and 28 non-commissioned officers throughout the mission.
BRP HYDROGRAPHER VENTURA on 04 March 2023 as she sails out of Subic Bay to search for MT PRINCESS EMPRESS —LTJG RENZ B VASQUEZ
Image of the suspected feature in Fledermaus 7.6.4
Underwater image of MT PRINCESS EMPRESS taken by ROV Hakuyo
(Photo from Governor Humerlito "Bonz" Dolor Facebook page)
Plotted positions from BRP HYDROGRAPHER VENTURA and ROV Hakuyo in Hypack 2023
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