23 November 2009

SBMA, PCG call for greater cooperation in maritime safety

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) jointly called for greater cooperation and public support in the promotion of safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment.

SBMA chairman Feliciano Salonga and Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, commandant of the PCG, both pressed for improved coordination in addressing problems in maritime safety during the Subic Bay Fire, Search & Rescue and Marine Pollution Joint Exercise (Marpolex) 2009 conducted here last week.

The maritime exercises were also joined by the 102nd Squadron of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA), which is based in Subic Bay, and some business locators in this free port.

The Subic Bay Marpolex was aimed at evaluating the integrated response capabilities of the participating agencies during maritime disasters that may occur near or within the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

It also sought to enhance cooperation and capability in firefighting, rescue and oil spill containment and recovery operations; to train participants in planning, command and control, and conduct of integrated operation; and to establish a firm and effective working relationship among the participants.

Salonga, who holds the rank of a commodore in the PCGA and is deputy national director for aid to navigation, also urged members of the Subic Bay PCGA to expand its membership and conduct rigorous training.

He said that since Subic Bay has about 88,000 workers from both the locators and the SBMA, the 100-odd members of the Subic squadron “is but the proverbial tip of the iceberg that we can tap as members”

“I believe we should be big enough to be mobilized at short notice, whenever and wherever the need for our services arises,” Salonga said. “We should be big enough to be counted and recognized as a force in assisting the Coast Guard.”

Salonga reminded everyone that the Subic squadron needs to have the right training in order to equip members with the required knowledge and skills.

“Only with the right training can we prepare them to respond effectively and well to the call of service,” Salonga also said.

In the same occasion, Admiral Tamayo called for improved coordination and unity in promoting safety of life at sea, and cited the SBMA for its support to the PCG.

“We have managed to open our borders and work side by side to address maritime challenges, specifically during maritime disasters and oil spills that may occur near or within the Subic Bay Freeport,” Tamayo said.

“As our nation’s leading maritime safety agencies, our goal is to strive towards minimizing maritime incidents and dangers. Should these happen though, we can be sure that we have each other to depend upon in order to institute an effective and efficient fire/search and rescue/marine pollution operation,” Tamayo added.

Aside from Coast Guard vessels, the exercise involved the deployment of seven SBMA boats that have recently been placed under the management of Subic’s 102nd PCGA Squadron commanded by PCGA Capt. Armand Arreza, who is also the administrator of the SBMA.

Subic locators Malayan Towage and Salvage Co. and Philippine Coastal Storage and Pipeline Corp. meanwhile deployed two tugboats and an oil spill on-shore protection team, respectively.

The SBMA also provided medical, fire, communication and oil spill on-shore protection teams for the exercise. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: SBMA fireboats suppress a fire onboard a tugboat during a maritime safety and pollution control exercise conducted with the Philippine Coast Guard at the Subic Bay Freeport.