Typhoon Ambo and the Manila Bay Cruise Ships

Typhoon Ambo is heading towards Manila even as I type this. It started as a Tropical Depression off the coast of Mindanao and strengthened to a Typhoon as it progressed north then north-west. It will pass near Manila this afternoon or evening and we are currently under Typhoon Warning Signal #2 in Manila. Surrounding areas (Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Bulacan and Pampanga for example) are also under TWS#2.

The cruise ships that were anchored in Manila Bay returning Filipino crew to the Philippines put to sea last night or early this morning to get some sea room should the waters become rough in the Bay and the wind strengthen. This way they will not break anchor cables and are better able to ride our storms when steaming. The illustration above shows the number of them just  off the coast now. I expect them to return tomorrow.

Manila Bay – COVID-19 Isolation Ward of Cruise Ships

When the boat comes in … OK, ship. Three on the horizon arriving, one departing

Over the last week or so of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, I tend to look out (wistfully) several times a day over Manila Bay. I have seen a few ships arriving and the odd ship leaving. Cruise ships, like aircraft, carry transponders so their positions can be logged real time wherever they are in the world. So I did a bit of googling and found the Cruise Mapper website where you can see ships sailing and their courses as well as those docked. More in that later.

Ships parked in the Bay – Ruby Princess highlighted

The now infamous “plague ship” that carried so many COVID-19 infections back into Australia in March, the Ruby Princess, sailed from Sydney to Manila, arriving here a couple of days ago. She is anchored in the Bay (highlighted). The purpose of her trip here was, I believe, to be able to offload the remaining 100 or so Filipino crew still on board, 396 Filipino crew having been flown from Australia back to the Philippines about a month ago on a chartered flight.

120kms off the coast

It hasn’t just been vessels coming, there have been a few going as well.  Over the day about 6  vessels have sailed out of Manila but at the same time, a few have also arrived.

Not all vessels are anchored in Manila Bay however. Carnival Splendour is anchored about 110kms off the coast. This morning Carnival Panorama was also anchored about 15kms away from her. By this evening, Pacific Explorer had anchored about 150kms off the coast having been sailing towards Manila this morning. Carnival Panorama has left. Perhaps they need to wait for a pilot to come to the ship to guide it into the bay, or a spare anchoring position to be available within the bay.

The world view this morning

As seen on this map, there are not so many cruise ships in the Pacific and Indian Oceans currently but still a great number in the Atlantic, most heading towards Europe, and  perhaps home ports and some heading towards the Cape of Good Hope.

The Pink coloured vessels in the Mediterranean and on the coast of Western Europe are ferries. Across the top of Russia, the ice breakers are apparent.

However, Manila Bay does seem to have more than an average number of vessels present, hence the COVID-19 Isolation Ward for Cruise Ships.

There is a similar application on the Internet for tracking aircraft movements, Flight Radar 24, which shows the position of aircraft in real time. Even now, there are a lot of aircraft in the air, but no so many in the busy air corridors over Australia.

Real time flight tracking