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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Salvaging MT Pratibha Cauvery - tug Malviya 21 arrives

As posted earlier, the tanker MT Pratibha Cauvery continues to attract huge crowds to the Foreshore Estate beach. From Chennai Port, it would be around 5 land miles and less than 3 nautical miles by sea.  It is no monument and cannot continue as it is- ships are built to be on the sea and more the time for removal from the sands, more difficult, it could prove to be.   There is news that a powerful tug Malviya 21, a 133-tonne bollard pull, has arrived from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh and would be put to salvage operations by today.  

You might sure have heard of ‘tug boats’ – looking similar to fishing trawlers but packing great power.  These Tug boats are often smaller with width:length ratio higher as it would need a lower draught.  They require minimum crew – they are stationed at harbours; pilot, pull and bring bigger ships in to their designated place inside the Port.  In ports where mid-sea loading / unloading takes place, tugs would pull barges in a row.  

When a boat runs aground, they try to loosen the soil around, and try to pull and veer back the struck boat back to the waters, at high tides with the help of powerful tugs and other boats.  Perhaps a very similar process might be adopted in ship too.  It is stated that the first attempt would be to pull ship into the sea with the help of Malviya 21.  The stranded vessel  reportedly has  3.5 tonnes of diesel oil and 357 tonnes of furnace oil. .  There is concern on oil leakage and resultant damage to the environment.  Generally, cargo on holds will be unloaded to lessen the load weight of the vessel.  In the case of Pratibha Cauvery, it is stated that it had no cargo except for the ballast water, which would be released to lessen the weight.

Photo of tug Malviya 21 – courtesy The Hindu

News reports confirm that the Tug Malviya 21 arrived in Chennai travelling for a day and is now berthed at Chennai port.  The tug is expected to pull Pratibha Cauvery out of the shallow waters.. Incase, it failed, another ship, SCI Ratna, is expected to join the pulling exercise.  There is news that the global experts SMIT salvage surveyed the ship and have bee chartering plans to tug the ship.  Sources state that the owners - Pratibha Shipping Company had signed Lloyds Open Form of salvage agreement.   

Malviya, the tug is so much in news ! – a  tugboat (tug) is a boat that manouvers  vessels by  towing them. Tugs move vessels that either should not move themselves, such as ships in a crowded harbor or a narrow canal, or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, or oil platforms. Tugboats are powerful for their size and strongly built, and some are ocean-going.

As could be read there is reference to bollard pull of the tug.  A bollard is a short vertical post. The term is probably related to bole, meaning a tree trunk.  That is not being referred to here.  It is Bollard pull.  Bollard pull is a value that allows the comparison of the pulling force of watercraft, particularly tugboats.  Bollard pull is the zero speed pulling capability of the tug. It is a measure of the usefulness of the ship in a stranding scenario or in holding a large tanker or aircraft carrier off a lee shore. Bollard pull is tested when a tug is built and certified by one of the classification societies. Bollard pull, like horsepower, is a selling point for tugs and is sometimes overstated.

As indicated in Press, the vessel Pratibha Cauvery is no great financial shape – can you guess the indicated cost of salvaging the vessel.  Going by a report in Hindu Business Line, the  Mumbai-based Pratibha Shipping may have to spend nearly Rs 40 crore for salvage operations as well as to foot the hotel and hospital bills of the crew of its beached vessel, Pratibha Cauvery.

The vessel has already become subject matter of litigation and it is reported  in Business Line that the  company is making arrangements to immediately secure Rs 20-25 crore to pay the hotel and hospital bills for the crew; compensation for the six crew members who died and wage bills for the other crew members, said an official who is not authorised to speak to the media.  The report states that the 31 members of the crew have been put up in various hotels across the city.  The vessel is reportedly insured with PSU New India Assurance.   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th Nov. 2012.

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