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Friday, July 3, 2015

Audi car floats at Chennai sea !

Ships sail on seas – cars are driven on roads – there are so many luxury cars seen these days in Chennai city roads – ever heard of a car floating ?

Audi AG, is a German automobile manufacturer that designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles. Audi  is headquartered  in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany and are produced in nine production facilities worldwide. Audi has been a majority owned subsidiary of Volkswagen Group since 1966.  Its logo of  four rings represent one of four car companies that banded together to create Audi's predecessor company, Auto Union.  We heard this name when an Audi 100 was gifted to Ravi Shastri in Australia  on winning 'Champion of Champions' in 1985.

At sea, there are specialised Car Carriers which transport cars.  A few months ago, a  51,000 ton cargo ship was intentionally run aground outside of Southampton on the southern coast of England.  The Norwegian-owned vessel - christened the Hoegh Osaka - had just left port on its way to Germany when it developed what the owners Hoegh Autoliners called a "severe list." The Hoegh Osaka's crew decided to beach the beach vessel in an attempt to save it and its cargo.  All its crew made it safely to the shore.  At the time of the incident, the ship was transporting as many as 1,200 luxury cars and SUVs from Jaguar and Land Rover, with an estimated value of $45 million. In addition, the Osaka was also carrying 65 vehicles from BMW's MINI division, valued at an estimated $2 million, reported the BBC. All of the cars were reportedly destined for the Middle East.

Talking about Car carriers, reference would naturally be drawn to infamous cargo ship accident of another Norwegian Car carrier- MV Tricolor, the 50,000 tonne, which was involved in three English Channel collisions within a fortnight, resulting in massive damage, marine pollution and probably the biggest loss in auto exporting industry.  In Dec 2002,  in the early morning’s thick fog, on its way from Zeebrugge to Southampton, the MV Tricolor, with a load of almost 3,000 BMWs, Volvos and Saabs, collided with a 1982 Bahamian-flagged container ship named Kariba, about 20 miles north of the French coast in the English Channel.

The salvage operation of MV Tricolor was done by a consortium of companies under the name Combinatie Berging Tricolor (Combination for Salvaging Tricolor) that was led by the Dutch company Smit International, and took well over a year. The salvage method included a carbide-encrusted cutting cable used to slice the wreck into nine sections of 3,000 tonnes each. This technique was similar to one Smit International had used in salvaging most of the Russian nuclear submarine, K-141 Kursk. The cargo of 2,871 new cars – mostly from premium German and Swedish manufacturers including BMW, Volvo and SAAB – was removed from the wreck and recycled for the metal component. The cut cross section of the ship showed so many cars dangling precariously. 

This one back home is different – New Indian Express reports that fishermen living around Kovalam have in the past seen many weird objects washing ashore — even pyres set on sea from the Thailand coast. But, when they woke up on Thursday morning they had, perhaps, the biggest surprise when they saw a brand new luxury Audi car washing ashore.

The white Audi Q3, which was later traced to be belonging to a realtor residing in Gowriwakkam, was noticed floating in the sea that was more choppy than usual because of the full moon night. As the word spread, a few fishermen recalled the car roaming in the area the night before. Their worst fears of this being a suicide attempt was removed when they found there was none inside the car. “A few of them tried to pull out the car using a tractor that we use to pull out boats and ships out of the coast. Even as the car moved a little, it got struck in the rocks. The car was in gear and hence the wheels could not roll making it difficult to pull it out,” said  a local fishermen.

But as time passed and the sea water retreated a bit by the effect of the daylight, the car became more visible. By that time the information was already passed on to the fire services and the Kelambakkam police. Police engaged an earth-mover to pull the car out. “We tied a rope to the rear of the car and the machine was able to pull the car out. But by then the car was heavily damaged due to impact of the waves overnight,” said a police officer.  The car doors were not locked. But all police could find inside was a purse with a driving license bearing the name ‘Dennis Joshua Kingshlin’. An ‘advocate’ sticker was also pasted on the windshield. “ The car owner was traced to be — Williams Garry, a real estate businessman. He visited the spot but did not make it clear how the car got washed away.

The Police  registered a case under CrPC section 102 as unclaimed property. The car owner reportedly told police that the car was taken by one of his relatives and went missing when it was parked on sides of the ECR. The car Audi Q3 is reportedly  worth about Rs. 42 lakh, was not registered – by some accounts, the car was taken away by miscreants who were drunk.  It is reported that the owner has refused to take it – would present lot of complications in insurance angle, especially as the car was unregistered and the cause of loss on why it found the waters would have to be properly explained – assuming that it was insured !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd July 2015.

Photo credit : The New Indian Express.

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