Believed to be caused by drifting buoy marker
A Mexican Naval vessel ran aground on the barrier reef at the Tuffy Channel in front of Ambergris Caye on Wednesday, May 6th shortly after 12:30PM. The military boat was reportedly traveling to the Mexican City of Chetumal when it crashed on the reef. After a couple of hours sitting on the reef, the boat was removed in a safe manner with the assistance of the Belize Coast Guard (BCG) and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, who carried out an initial assessment of the situation. In the coming days, the Department of Environment (DOE), will conduct a further impact assessment and submit it to Belize’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be dealt with at a State to State level.
Vice Commandant of the BCG, Gregory Soberanis, told the media that the naval boat was travelling from the Mexican coastal community of Mahahual to its base by Chetumal City. According to his report, two boats, one of which was the lead vessel, known as a Safe Boat Class were using some marking buoys to safely transit through a channel known as Tuffy. “Unfortunately, the marker buoy had drifted a little bit too much to the right of the Tuffy channel and it was sitting on top of the reef,” said Soberanis. “So the Mexican boat that used that buoy as a marker point eventually ended up on the reef itself.” He pointed out that the military vessel has diplomatic status, thus the matter regarding any issues with damages to the reef will be dealt with via Belize and Mexico’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
According to Vice Commandant Soberanis, the Mexican Navy has an agreement with Belize, whereby naval vessels from that country have what is known as ‘innocent passage.’ Soberanis explained that under such agreement, they can transit Belizean waters while traveling to their base in Chetumal City. “Under this agreement, they must move expeditiously and cannot make any stops while transiting our waters,” explained Soberanis.Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun
Just before one o’clock today, a Mexican naval vessel ran aground on the reef near San Pedro. Official information is that the vessel was one of two registered to the Mexican military that was travelling from Mahahual en route to a coast guard base at the Subteniente López station at the border in Quintana Roo, Mexico. So how did the vessel end up atop the reef in Belize? According to Commander Gregory Soberanis, the vessel was driven off course and crashed onto the reef. Soberanis also says that both countries have an agreement where the Mexican Coast Guard can transit through Belizean waters to get to the base. The Vice Commandant explains the details of the incident report and what led to the vessel running aground.
The vessel has since been removed from where it was lodged and departed our waters. The Ministry of the Environment will be conducting an assessment of the incident. Commander Gregory Soberanis says that a final report will be forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since the vessel has diplomatic status and the matter will be dealt with at state level.
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.