12/06/2008PRELIMINARY INFORM ON THE SEA STAR ACCIDENT TO THE GENERAL DIRECTOR OF THE MERCHANT MARINE

Cancun, Quintana Roo, June 10, 2008

GENERAL DIRECTOR OF THE MERCHANT MARINE

Following up on the nautical emergency notice issued on Saturday the 7th of the current month, I hereby inform you of the present situation regarding the accident that occurred on that date involving the catamaran “SEA STAR,” property of the company Servicios Maritimos Acuaticos del Caribe S.A. de C.V., registration number 2301421724-9, of this port.

By way of background, below is the section concerning the accident from the update report issued by the Federal Maritime Protection (Resguardo Maritimo Federal) Officer on duty on the day of the events here mentioned.

14:38 HRS. 066 (SUPERVISOR C. OSCAR BRAVO) REPORTS THAT A BOAT IN PUNTA CANCUN (CORAL REEF ZONE KNOWN AS “CHITALES”) WITH PEOPLE ON BOARD IS SINKING AND REQUESTS ASSISTANCE, THE MARITIME COMMUNITY IN THE CHITALES ZONE IS BEING NOTIFIED IMMEDIATELY VIA VHF RADIO SO THEY CAN PROVIDE ASSISTANCE, PATROL BOATS 025 AND 007 WITH OFFICERS MIGUEL GONZALES, MIGUEL FLORES AND GUILLERMO CRUZ VELASCO ON BOARD ARE REPORTING THAT UPON ARRIVING AT THE ZONE THEY OBSERVE THAT THE BOAT “SEA STAR,” WITH REGISTRATION NUMBER 2301121724-5 AND MEASURING 76 FEET IN LENGTH AND 24 IN WIDTH, IS PARTIALLY SUNK STERN FIRST, AND THAT TOURIST BOATS FROM THE SOLO BUCEO MARINA AND THE CORAL BEACH MARINA ARE HELPING TO TRANSFER PEOPLE IN JET SKIS AND PARASAIL BOATS, THE BOATS ULTRAMAR X, SEA HORSE AND SEA HAWK ALSO ARRIVED TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE; THEY ALSO REPORT THAT 215 PEOPLE WERE ON BOARD THE “SEA STAR” BOAT, AS WELL AS FIVE CREW MEMBERS INCLUDING CAPTAIN AGUSTIN CITUK, WHO REPORTED VIA VHF RADIO SIXTY-THREE PASSENGERS AND FOUR CREW MEMBERS ON BOARD.

EVERYONE WAS TAKEN TO LAND AT THE SOLO BUCEO MARINA, ASSISTED BY THE RED CROSS, UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF C. JEREMY SMITH. EIGHT PEOPLE WERE TAKEN TO THE HOSPITAL FOR MEDICAL ATTENTION – FIVE OF THEM WITH MINOR INJURIES, TWO WITH FRACTURES AND ONE PERSON IN SERIOUS CONDITION WHO WAS TAKEN TO THE GALENIA HOSPITAL FOR TREATMENT, THE BOAT WAS BEACHED AND SECURED WITH ANCHORS ACROSS FROM PLAYA TORTUGAS, AND THE 5TH NAVAL REGION WAS INFORMED, OFFICER MERINO RECEIVING, NOTIFICATION ALSO WAS SENT BY 066 TO MEXICO CITY AND TO THE NATIONAL PARK.

While authorities are continuing to draw up a record on the accident, the catamaran was docked today at the “Isla Mujeres Marina” so that an inspection can be performed. The boat is being safeguarded by the MPFC and is under the protection of the Harbor Master’s Office.

The acknowledged results of the accident to date are: one person named Lisa Tam Chung with brain injuries presumably caused by asphyxiation due to submersion in water, two people with arm fractures and five more treated for a nervous crisis. The National Park reports approximately 40 square meters of damage to hard and soft coral reefs. The boat suffered damage to its hull and engines.

The matter that has generated the most confusion among t public opinion concerns the vessel’s real passenger capacity. This is due to the fact that the stability booklet drawn up by the firm Ingenieria Naval Integral is approved by the Naval Engineering Department and authorized by the General Directorate of the Merchant Marine’s sub-department of inspection services and establishes that the boat can carry 129 people in the main deck and 121 people on the upper deck, or 250 people total. But the permit granted by the Office of Natural Protected Areas – as well as the National Maritime Security Certificate, or CSMN, granted by the inspection office of the Puerto Juarez Port Authority – put the total capacity at 80 passengers and three crew members. The capacity established by the aforementioned CNSM was set to be in accordance with the National Park permit.

The state governor has questioned the reason the boat was allowed to leave port with excess passengers and demanded greater vigilance on the part of the Harbor Master’s Office, when in reality the Sea Star was one of many boats that sail every day from the more than thirty piers in the “zona lagunar” (encompassing the beach and coral reef area) and which are managed under a monthly dispatch system that authorizes multiple exits and entrances. In theory, the boat was not carrying an excess of passengers based on technical documents approved by the designer and stability tests carried out in Progreso and Yucalpeten by personnel from our Secretariat. Additionally, responsibility for monitoring and supervising the natural protected areas also lies with PROFEPA and SEMAR, which coordinate their efforts for that purpose, although that cooperation is not really sufficient considering the traffic and number of vessels in the area.

On the same day of the accident, ReMaFe personnel transported doctors from the medicine Unit – with the Secretariat’s help – to evaluate the crew members. They tested negative for alcohol, while the results of drug tests remain pending.

Although it would be too soon to issue a definitive opinion at this time, according to the statements and the conclusions of the Stability Booklet of the B/M “SEA STAR,” it is presumed that the partial sinking may have been the result of the following, among other causes:

A.) Malfunctioning caused by a blow to the hull or the propulsion and/or steering system prior to the mooring at the buoy of the reef known as “Chitales,” causing water to enter and flood the engine room and the malfunctioning of the engines as well as the generator.
B.) Considerable imbalance on the stern-side of the catamaran due to the inadequate concentration of passengers in the boat between the middle section and the stern, causing water to pass through the ventilation grilles and flood the engine room.
C.) Lack of caution and/or common sense on the part of the boat’s captain in navigating through the coral reef zone and/or without adequately evaluating marine conditions.
D.) The combination of one or more of the above situations.

A partial case file was sent to the General Directorate of the Merchant Marine in its honorable jurisdiction, and as soon as the Naval Inspectors arrive, an scrutiny of the hull will be carried out and actions will be taken insofar as circumstances allow to do so.

RESPECTFULLY
HARBOR MASTER

VICENTE ARTURO MARTÍNEZ MORALES

7 PRELIMINARY INFORM ON THE SEA STAR ACCIDENT TO THE DGMM