A vessel from our neighbours in Mexico was sighted off the shore of San Pedro Town just after twelve o’clock this afternoon. Love News understands that the Mexican Naval vessel was travelling from Mahahual to Chetumal with three passengers. The vessel lost its direction when they entered the main channel in San Pedro Town and their marker buoy drifted off course causing them to run aground Belize’s reef. Vice Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, Gregory Soberanis spoke to the media today on what they encountered on the sea when they responded.
Gregory Soberanis, Vice Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “The Mexican Navy has an agreement with the country of Belize where Mexican Naval vessels have what is known as innocent passage where they can transit Belizean waters en route to Chetumal or their station at Subteniente at our northern border and under this agreement they must move expeditiously the cannot stop it’s continuous transit throughout our waters so that is a standard agreement with Belize and Mexico it’s under international law. What transpired this afternoon was that the lead vessel which is a Safe Boat class vessel while entering the channel was using the marker buoy as a reference for entering that particular channel which is the main channel in front of San Pedro Town. Unfortunately the marker buoy had drifted and had drifted a little bit too much to the right of the channel and it was sitting right on top of the reef so the Mexican vessel which used that marker buoy as a reference point eventually ended up on the reef itself.”
Being that the vessel landed directly on the reef, the Department of the Environment will conduct an impact assessment on the damages.
Gregory Soberanis, Vice Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “A report from DOE will be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and it will be dealt with at that particular level. The vessel has been removed from off the reef. DOE will conduct an initial impact assessment and based on those findings that will be included in the report which will be forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and it will be dealt with on a state to state level. Under these circumstances what DOE did was that they have for example Hol Chan which is also another environmental agency who responded as well to go do an initial assessment of the situation to determine if the vessel can be removed and if any damage would be incurred to the reef if the vessel would have been removed. In this case that was done with the assistance of the Coast Guard and it was deemed that the vessel could have been removed in a safe manner without any significant damage to the reef so the vessel was removed. Even after the vessel was removed there were no damages to the vessel or to the engines of that particular vessel.”
After the initial assessment, the vessel was allowed to continue its journey.