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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Boat getting adrift - from Japan to Canada !!!

India dots a long coastal line and there are many Major and minor harbours – more no. of Fishing harbours.  Various types of Fishing boats ranging from big Trawlers to Cattumarams (katamaran) venture in to sea and return after their voyage which again can be hours or days. Most boats have engines for power – with power on, they are steered in the right direction and fishermen navigate, reach the place of their choice for fishing and eventually return after a good catch. All good !

But what happens when there is snag – an engine failure – at sea with turbulent waves and stronger currents, boat despite anchor tends to drift and can run aground !  How much of distance, it would drift is always debatable but fact remains it would drift……….

More than 15 years ago, handled a claim of a Fishing boat which was claimed to have drifted whilst fishing in the precincts of Visakhapatnam (I still remember the Registration No. of Boat and the Name of the Owner [in the name of a lady from Kakinada] but chose not to divulge those details).  Those days, there was Marine Hull Tariff followed by PSU Insurers who insured fishing boats and the rates were quite high if you are to compare them with the present day market. 

To recall the Fishing Vessel Tariff had Six Zones as under :
Zone 1 : Coasts of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa
Zone 2 : Coasts of Karnataka, Kerala and West & south Coasts of Tamilnadu upto and including Gulf of Mannar
Zone 3 : Coasts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu (Including Pondy) up to and including Palk Strait and Palk Bay
Zone 4 : Coasts Orissa and West Bengal
Zone 5 : Coasts of Andaman and Nicobar islands
Zone 6 : Coasts of islands constituting Lakshadweep.

In the folklore of fishermen, ‘Ranee of Hyderabad’ was a charmer.  I have heard the story of the  boat “Ranee of Hyderabad” pristine at its peak, built of teak and having copper hardwarde built somewhere in 1966  but continued its operation during 1990s also. Amidst the  ripe stories of the boats carried away in stormy weather, this one  from Kakinada coast was lost and found once in 24 paraganas and in Bangladesh (or was it Burma) but with all its crew safe and that some local astrologer finding out its whereabout in a betel leaf !! Strange are the ways at SEA.         

Sure the World remembers the 2011  earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku, a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred on Friday, 11 March 2011. It was the most powerful known earthquake ever to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako Prefecture in the Sendai area.  The tsunami is worst remembered for the nuclear accidents at the meltdown of reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents.  

In late March 2012, there appeared reports of sighting of a Japanest boat near Canada – 4703 miles away  - it was a large fishing vessel swept away by that devastating tsunami and found near British Columbia in western Canada.  The trawler is part of the 5 million tons of debris that were swept into the ocean in March 2011.  It has been determined that the boat has been adrift without anybody at the helm since March 11 last year – one year and travel of 4703 miles adrift.  

photo of vessel tossed up and the one near Canada (below)

Reports suggest that Japan Coast Guard identified the owner of the fishing trawler after being contacted by Canadian officials, who were able to provide the identification number on the hull of the ship.  The vessel, which was used for squid fishing, was moored at Hachinohe in the Aomori prefecture when the tsunami hit, said Toshiro Yoshinaga, a Coast Guard official.  It was further reported that Canadian agencies are monitoring the ship for possible marine pollution.  

More to follow on how the boat has been dealt with,  in subsequent post

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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