Dayra Wood Pino, Engineering Cadet, RIP

How would you feel, sitting down for dinner in the ship's mess, and knowing that for nearly three weeks, one of your dead crew mates has been lying in the ship's cool room, next to the vegetables and foodstuff. Despite this, the vessel carries on calling at ports and handling cargo; business as usual. I suspect you would be pretty shaken up, I know I would be.

Believe it or not, this outrageous situation has just occurred on the Panamanian flagged tanker, El Valencia. 22 year old Engineering Cadet Dayra Wood Pino, who had paid to be on the ship, in order to get her sea time to complete her Marine Engineering certificate requirements, was reportedly killed during a workplace accident on August 4th, 2012. She was a recent graduate of the International Maritime University of Panama, and on her her first voyage.

Ms. Dayra Wood Pino, Panamanian Engineering Cadet, RIP, August 4, 2012
Her body was removed from the scene in the engine room, without investigation, placed in the ship's refrigerator, where it remained until Mexican official removed the body on August 22, in the Port of Veracruz, a full 21 days after her death. She was repatriated to Colon in Panama, where she was buried by her family on August 31st 2012.

The death was not investigate nor was her body landed for 17 days, despite the ship making two port calls, on a voyage commencing August 1st, from Balboa, Panama, to Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, Mexico. The ship left there, and was refueled in Dos Bocas, before Mexican official finally ordered the ship arrested, where it berthed in Veracruz, Mexico, in order land the body and start the investigation.

The initial tragedy that claimed her life, occurred Aug 4th, in the engine room of the tanker, while the ship was sailing, while she was performing a routine bilge transfer operation at around 17:00hrs. The first person ashore reportedly notified by the Captain, was the ULTRAMAR agent in Panama, about one hour after the accident. Within minutes of that contact, the agent replied with an emailed Death Certificate and instruction on what to do.

MV El Valentia - Source
Three days after the accident, it was reported to the Panama Maritime Authority, but it was not until August 18, that they in turn, notified the Mexican authorities. It appears, this only occurred at the prodding of Captain Luis Fruto, President of the Panamanian Association of Merchant Navy Officers, who is also a Panamanian ITF inspector, coordinating with his Mexican counterparts.

The death of Miss Wood Pino remains unexplained by the ship's senior officers, although reports state that she was working on a defective bilge pump, under the direction of the Ship's Mate, and was caught up in the operating mechanism, mutilating her person.

Mexican officials have found 30 other deficiencies with the vessel, and the Panamanian Authorities have revoke all certificates for the ship. The ship's Panamanian crew remains in Mexico, but two other cadets have returned home to Panama. The Captain, Jose Galloway Molina, is under investigation for incompetence, as it appears he has no formal training to be a Master Mariner. Investigators in Panama and Mexico have ongoing investigation into the matter. 

The ship, El Valencia, (ex Alanje, Eco, Teco, Takis E, ...etc) is a product tanker of 3340 DWT built in 1972 and is not classed by any IACS members. It is owned by Top Agents of Panama City, Panama, it is reported that this company is associated with the Fern├índez brothers, who run the Astilleros Braswell shipyard in Panama.

Edwin Wood Pino, brother of Dayra
Wow, what an unbelievable story. Again, few words can relay my dismay to Ms. Dayra Wood Pino's family. The lack of basic decency towards a professional sailor, never mind, a human being, is appalling. The lack of coverage in trade and general media alike, is even more discouraging - the apathy shown for professional mariners who facilitate the move of nearly all of the world's trade, is unforgivable.

My deepest condolence to the family.

You can read the news release by the ITF here with more details of the events; here are news stories from Panama, here, here and here. Here is a spanish article on her being repatriated to Panama. Barista Uno, the astute Filipino blogger that first alerted me to the situation makes a sober observation here. A bit more details on the ship can be found here.

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