Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Inspection at Chennai almost nails Prabhu Daya's involvement in Kerala accident


Apropos my post on the ‘hit and run’ case at Sea in which the vessel MV Prabhu Daya was suspected and was to be inspected by Mercantile Marine Department at Chennai – things have happened at a much faster pace.  (Read my earlier post : http://sampspeak.blogspot.in/2012/03/tale-of-2-killings-at-sea-enrica-lexie.html)

The road which is clear path of direction for vehicular movement (that road rules are mostly violated is another thing), there may not be such a clear route at ship or so one thought.  If you had wondered as to what could be aspects that could determine whether it was this vessel which was involved in that ‘hit and run’ – today’s news unravels many a mysteries that shrouded the incident.

The reports suggest that the Singapore flagged vessel  had made some unusual diversions near the accident location, are revealed by the  electronic charts prepared by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).  Its s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre  is quoted as stating that the voyage chart shows several deviations from the vessel’s designated route. They are also  analysing data from the voyage data recorder (VDR), global positioning systems (GPS) and automatic identification systems (AIS)”.  It is  confirmed that the vessel passed by the accident spot, strengthening suspicion about its involvement in the collision.  The  scrape marks  found on the hull of the ship during the inspection add to the suspicion and the  underwater study of the vessel by the Navy would conclusively nail its involvement in the accident.  It is reported that  paint samples of the vessel have been taken to be compared  with that of the capsized boat. 
the illustraive path of vessel : courtesy Times of India


In that ghastly accident, that occurred 12 nautical miles off the Alappuzha coast in Kerala in the early hours of 1st Mar 2012, 2 fishermen were found dead  and a third one’s body was retrieved from the wreckage of the fishing boat later. Two more fishermen were feared missing.   After studying the routes of several ships that passed by the location at that time, the coast guard summoned Prabhu Daya to Chennai for an investigation.   Curiously enough, when the vessel was off the Trincomalee coast on its way to Chennai, a crew member fell into the sea. He was rescued by a fishing trawler and taken to a hospital in Sri Lanka. It remains unclear if it was an accident or a suicide attempt.

There are reports that Kerala Police wanted to arrest the crew members of the vessel but were desisted by DG Shipping officials pending analysis of digital records.  As of now, there is news of scratch marks found in the fore of the ship, which are pointers to its involvement in the accident.  It is also reported that the Chennai Port Trust did not  permit the vessel to berth at Bharti Dock, even 12 hours after its arrival,  and so a  team along with representatives of the Coast Guard and the Navy went to the outer anchorage, about 2.4 nautical miles from the shore, and carried out inspection from 12.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m.  The investigation of Kerala Police is independent of this.  Deep sea divers are to be deployed soon for underwater inspection and photographs of the vessel. 

The vessel Prabhu Daya, a Singapore flagged bulker was on its way to China carrying iron ore from Panaji.   Chennai Port Officials were quoted as citing the order of Madras High Court banning the Port from handling dusty cargo as also to protect the port’s productivity and interest. 

While this is an accident, the other incident involving the shooting of two Indian fishermen from aboard Enrica Lexie is getting murkier.  The two Italian marines Latore Massimilano and Salvatore Girone had been remanded and sent to Thiruvananthapuram Central Prison but created a ruckus by refusing to occupy the room allotted to them.  It is reported that the two marines refused stating that the prison cell was unclean.  It is reported that they were provided with chapatti, vegetable curry, Italian cuisine Pasta, cake and juice.  Still there was a stand-off with the authorities and marines protested.  Prison authorities had to makeit clear to the Italians that they had no choice but to obey the court order. After a stern warning from prison officials, the marines yielded – understanding that this is no honey-moon trip but they are under custody for committing crime of killing. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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