DFA, Red Cross extend aid to stranded foreign seafarers onboard Spanish tanker

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has provided medical assistance to 15 stranded foreign seafarers on board the Spanish-flagged vessel MV Celanova which has remained stranded one nautical mile from the shore of Manila since February.

A four-man team from the PRC boarded the vessel to provide medical aid, and to distribute hygiene kits and food items to the distressed seafarers composed of 13 Cuban and two Spanish nationals.

According to news reports, MV Celanova, a Spanish LPG tanker ship owned by Global Gas SA from Madrid, Spain, had been abandoned by its owner and eventually held by Philippine port state control authorities for rudder damage and some technical issues.

It was also reported that the crew onboard were left without water for drinking, medicine and basic supplies, and enough food to eat.

“When we learned about the incident, we immediately sent a team to check on the seafarers’ conditions and to know what other assistance are needed so we can provide right away. The Philippine Red Cross is always ready to help not just our fellow Filipinos but other nations and international organizations, as well,” PRC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sen. Richard J. Gordon said.

In a letter addressed to Gordon, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. expressed gratitude for the assistance extended by the PRC to the seafarers.

“The timely assistance of the Philippine Red Cross shows the world the compassionate and encompassing heart of the Filipinos. The kind gesture manifests that we do not only take care of our own, but also other nationalities in need,” Locsin stated in the letter.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office Generoso D.G. Calonge likewise visited the abandoned vessel also  to provide humanitarian assistance to the ship’s captain and crew, assess their needs and take note of their general concerns.

Calonge joined the PRC in providing medical checkups and other humanitarian assistance to the crew onboard the abandoned Spanish-flagged vessel.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA] sought the assistance of the PRC, recognizing it as a dependable partner of the department, in its desire to provide medical assistance to the seafarers,” Calonge said, adding “the Philippine Coast Guard [PCG] assisted the group during their visit.”

The crew were all found to be in good health and without symptom of the coronavirus, even as they have been on the vessel “for an extended period of time and without contact with other people.”

The  MV Celanova sustained damage to its rudder, incapacitating it and forcing it to anchor in Manila Bay, according to the PCG.

“The department continues to work closely with the Spanish Embassy to ensure that the concerns of the crew are addressed and they be repatriated to their home country at the soonest possible time,” Calonge said.


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