SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Ship-to-ship transfer operations of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has resumed in Subic Bay with the arrival here of a tanker over the weekend, but the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said the ship crew won’t be allowed to disembark due to health protocols observed in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the agency has made it clear that the officers and crew of LNG/C Methane Shirley Elisabeth, a tanker that will transfer her LNG cargo to smaller feeder ships, would remain on board all throughout the two-week operation.
“No one from the ship can be allowed to come ashore, sadly not even the 16 Filipinos among the 31 crew members, because of the health measures we must observe,” Eisma said.
The same policy will be implemented for the crew members of feeder vessels that will transport the LNG cargo from LNG/C Methane Shirley Elisabeth to ports in China, she added.
Eisma described the resumption of LNG ship-to-ship (STS) transfer operations in Subic as a “welcome boost to the economy” but stressed that health safety should be a paramount concern for both ship and port personnel.
According to SBMA seaport manager Jerome Martinez, LNG/C Methane Shirley Elisabeth, which has a gross tonnage of 95,753 tons, has a carrying capacity of 142,800 cubic meters of liquid gas.
He said the Bermudan-flagged carrier originated from Qatar and dropped by at a Hong Kong port to pick up three mooring masters before proceeding to Subic.
The ship is expected to stay at anchor here until Aug. 15 for STS operations.
Martinez also confirmed that no one among the crew would be allowed to disembark from the ship for any reason while it is in the Port of Subic.
He said that aside from the 16 Filipino crewmen, 15 other foreign nationals are on board the vessel. These include nine Greeks, two Croatians, two Ukrainians, a Romanian, and a Latvian.
Martinez also noted that upon arrival at the anchorage area outside of the bay, a team from the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) immediately boarded the tanker for health inspections and safety protocols, and followed by a boarding party composed of personnel from the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and Bureau of Immigration (BoI).
Following LNG/C Methane Shirley Elisabeth, another LNG carrier, the Singaporean-flagged LNG/C Lerici, will also conduct ship-to-ship (STS) transfer in Subic.
Eisma said the same health and safety protocols will be imposed by Subic authorities for Lerici’s STS operation.