US destroyer sinks two fishing boats

A guided-missile destroyer of the United States, USS Stethem, accidentally rammed two Philippine fishing boats while sailing out from Subic, Subic Bay News reported.

After the collision, US troops from the vessel dove into the sea to save three fishermen. Orlito T. Cocjin, 44 and Julie Mendez, 43 were from the motorized fishing boat, while Pampilo B. Bacsal, 33, was from a paddle boat. The incident happened at night time. “They were Filipinos fishing in a 19-foot wooden canoe and towing a smaller wooden craft, both unlit,” US Embassy’s Military Public Affairs Liaison Captain Craig Thomas said.

Though involved in an incident, USS Stethem was then allowed to leave with a guarantee that US Navy will provide monetary assistance for the victims’ medical expenses and damaged boats through US Embassy. Fishermen will not file a complaint.

USS Stethem is said to be setting for West Philippine Sea without a picket boat while still in Subic Bay. “Picket boat is a must for ships entering and leaving the bay,” an unnamed official of the SBMA Seaport Department told SBN. “It is the responsibility of the shipping agent.” He then added that the shipping agent, Global Terminal & Development, Inc. may face sanction both from SBMA and US Navy.

Except for USS Peleliu, all other US warships that participated in PHIBLEX 15 were allowed to leave the country including the US destroyer.