MV Princess of the Orient
The MV Princess of the Orient was a passenger ferry owned by Sulpicio Lines that sank off Fortune Island, near the provinces of Cavite and Batangas in the island of Luzon, The Philippines in September 18, 1998. The ship was originally built in Japan as the Sunflower 11 in 1974 where she served as a cruise ferry before being sold to Sulpicio Lines in 1993.
The ferry was built in 1974 as part of the fleet of the Nihon Kosoku Ferry Co., Ltd. in Japan as the Sun Flower 11. She measured 13,935 gross tons and was 195.7 meters long. She had a full capacity of 3,995 passengers and crew. She was eventually sold to Sulpicio Lines in 1993, and there she was refitted, adding a front cargo ramp and extending some of the decks. She was the only passenger ferry equipped with automatic stabilizers. (which had failed under Sulpicio due to a fire during drydock) Because of her sheer size, length and beauty, she became the flagship of the whole fleet. Prior to her sinking, she listed to her port side, a sign which was inconsequential until 5 years later.
On September 18, 1998, the Princess of the Orient sailed from Manila to Cebu during typhoon Vicki. Two hours after leaving the Manila harbor, the ferry suddenly tilted to its port side and was unable to recover. The ship capsized at 12:55 a.m. near Fortune Island and sank. Of the 388 passengers on board, 150 were killed. Survivors floated at sea for more than 12 hours before rescuers were able to reach them.
The wreck is resting on her Port side at 122 meters (400 ft) below sea level near Fortune Island. In the early 2000s, John Bennett and Ron Loos made the first scuba dives to the wreck site. It appeared probable that the cause of the sinking was due to the cargoes not being properly lashed. The shifting of the cargoes caused the ship to list to one side, resulting in the sinking.
In 2018, A mixed gas 5-man international rebreather team captured images of the wreck and explored it, at depths up to 128m.
Notes and references
- Sulpicio Lines, Inc. v. Napoleone Sesanta et al., G.R. No. 172682, p. 9. Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court, July 27, 2016.
- Her gross tonnage when measured for the International Maritime Organization was 13,614. Vessel details for Princess of the Orient, IMO 7373561.
- "Strings of Maritime Tragedies"
- Stieglitz, Guy (September 2003). "25 minutes at 122m". Sport Diver Magazine (UK).