Search This Blog

Monday, November 12, 2012

MT Pratibha Cauvery successfully salvaged - Malviya tows it to safety

After attracting huge crowds daily to the beach for nearly 10 days, the tanker Pratibha Cauvery is away.  Those involved sure would have heaved a sigh of relief when on Sunday, 11th Nov. 12, the  grounded ship MT Pratibha Cauvery was successfully  salvaged by a towing Tug Malaviya. The ship, as you would recall had run aground on October 31 under the impact of cyclonic storm Nilam, which made landfall near Mahabalipuram.  The ship which reportedly had no major damages to hull, headed towards Chennai port's outer anchorage.   It was another good news that there was no oil spill from the ship.  

The ship initially  ran aground near Chennai's Besant Nagar beach;  the same night the ship moved closer to the Foreshore Estate / Patinappakkam area, nestling between Lighthouse and Foreshore Estate.  Quite unfortunately, six of its crew died after the lifeboat they were escaping in capsized on the way to the shore.  So after eleven days, the vessel is back to floatation.  Salvage Experts, an International firm SMIT had been engaged for salvage of the vessel.  A powerful Tug Malviya 21 was summoned from Kakinada and it took a couple of more days to launch the salvage operation.

On Nov 8th, the Tug tried to pull the ship back into the sea but suffered a blow when the rope connecting the ship snapped.  Two days later, the vessel moved a few degrees towards the sea. Though another emergency tow vessel was available the team decided to have it only as a stand by. On Nov. 11th after several attempts, the vessel could be salvaged and pulled into the sea around 6.25 pm.  It is stated that the decision to de-ballast 7,000 tonnes of water from the ship, using several electrical submersible pumps helped making the vessel lighter and easier to tow.  Newspaper reports suggest that after deballast, the posterior of the ship, including the propeller set was under water, the front portion was in the air. To balance the vessel, 1,000 tonnes of water was pumped into the front portion.  Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan was among those who monitored the operations during the day.

Thankfully the ship did not suffer a wrong fate and is back on sea, perhaps the location of agrounding which  was closer to the port area; help being readily available, all helped.  More importantly, the damage to hull – its superstructure perhaps was not high, enabling its movement on tow.  It is stated that  divers would soon take photographs to assess damage to the keel and propellers.   Reports suggest that after analysing the safety of the vessel and its condition, it will be taken to a berth at Chennai port or the shipyard in Kattupalli port, 32km north of Chennai.  Sources state that an  investigation by the Director General of Shipping is on to find out what led to  the ship running aground and whether the tragedy could have been averted.  Earlier, there had been reports that the ship's captain was at fault on several counts. Officials allege  that  he defied instruction to not abandon the ship. The Chennai Port Trust too blames it on the ship's captain.

Now that it has moved from the sands of Marina back to the sea, not all is over – the vessel might get mired in litigation.  The Madras High Court has directed authorities not to let the ship move out of Chennai waters following a petition by a family of a deceased sailor. The petition seeks an interim compensation of Rs.25 lakh to the family of each sailor who was killed in the tragedy and an eventual settlement of Rs. one crore each. The petitioner claims the ship was not sea worthy, it was low on fuel, it had no power and the crew members were without food and water on board.

Here is an illustrative picture of the salvage operation – courtesy – Times of India – Chennai edition dated 12th Nov 12.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Nov 2012. 

No comments:

Post a Comment