20/06/2008Report from the Secretariat of Communications and Transport in relation to the SEA STAR case

In regards to the marine accident that took place on June 7, 2008 near the area known as the National Park Costa Occidental Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancun and Punta Nizuc, I would like to inform you by means of this summary about the events and status of the administrative process of the investigation led by the Harbormaster of Puerto Juarez, Quintana Roo in coordination with the Associate General Direction of the Marine Merchant.
The vessel in question named SEA STAR is property of Servicios Marítimos y Acuáticos del Caribe S.A de C.V.
• The SEA STAR was a small vessel made of fiberglass, authorized to navigate while providing recreation and sport services to a maximum of 80 passengers and 3 crew members.
• At the time of the accident, the SEA STAR was carrying 211 passengers, four crew members and five bar attendants, but negligently and arbitrarily reported fewer passengers and crew members to the Port authorities through VHF radio.
• Despite Captain Agustin Cituk’s experience and knowledge while in charge of the SEA STAR, it is clear that he wasn’t cautious enough during the boat’s first visit to the zone known as Polígono 2 (Polygon 2) of Parque Nacional Costa Occidental Isla Mejeres, Punta Cancun and Punta Nizuc when the low depth of the area becomes a risk for the integrity of the vessel’s hulls, propellers, and steering wheels.
• When the SEA STAR’s propeller, disengaged from the hulls, it neared the ocean floor by the area known as Polygon 2, and this is when the propeller hit the reef causing one of them to completely detach while the second propeller folded more than 30 degrees.
• It’s been reported that the first contact was held when the SEA STAR was tied to one of the buoys at Polygon 2, and once the steering compartments were flooded due to the impact on the rubber spades, the boat’s captain then proceeded to turn on the engines and attempt navigation.

The personnel in charge of preparing the investigation report believes that the cause of the accident is a combination of the following:
• The vessel’s imprudent overload
• The negligent performance of Agustin Cituk, Captain of the SEA STAR
In order to determine the cause for the physical damage and human casualties, instructions have been given to expand testimonies from crew members and passengers that will help account for captain and crew members’ performance immediately after the SEA STAR internal compartments started to inundate.
It’s important to highlight the fact that during this week, more testimonials from people involved in these events will be added to the public hearing while ensuring that there won’t be any legal inconveniences at having a representative of the State Government of Quintana Roo attend such administrative procedures which are a matter of public interest.

Jesus Maria Vasquez Gomez
Secretariat of Communications and Transport