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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

salvaging Pratibha Cauvery to safety - Tug and Salvors

31st October 2012 and cyclone Nilam brought an unusual visitor – not many had seen a ship from close quarters; sad that in the incident there have been human casualties amidst varied versions and debates on the Captain’s instructions and whether it was hurried action on the part of the sailors – remember that it was no ordinary time though the vessel was in the vicinity of the shore, which is a luxury to sailors…………. The powerful cyclone which made landfall between Mamallapuram and Kalpakkam  brought in its wake the tanker vessel MT Pratibha Cauvery, now beached between Foreshore Estate and Lighthouse beach.

In 7 days nothing seems to have happened – first it was struck at Besant Nagar beach; then it came to its present position at Pattinapakkam – first the port side was visible from the shore; now it is the starboard side.  Not sure whether it is a perception or some discernible sign – more of its rudder is visible now.  This morning went to the beach with fond hope that ship would have been pulled back to the sea in the process of salvage by International Experts  - nothing seemingly has happened.
Photo taken by me this morning 7.11.12

Coming back home and reading this newsitem in Times of India made things lot clearer and the photographic depiction makes things pretty clear.  -

Here is the article as it appeared in TOI Chennai Edition dt 7.11.12


SALVAGE STARTS TOMORROW : Tug To Begin Towing Pratibha Cauvery Away From Coast During High Tide - Arun Janardhanan | TNN 

              A salvage team will begin towing stranded oil tanker Pratibha Cauvery, which ran aground as Cyclone Nilam slammed into Chennai last Wednesday, from the city’s shores on Thursday afternoon.      A tug will start the operation to recover the ship around 3pm, when tides are expected to be high. The vessel lost anchor after being hit by huge waves and drifted towards Elliot’s Beach, where it hit the shore. Six sailors drowned in an attempt to escape from the ship. The vessel later drifted north and is currently located around half a nautical mile from Marina Beach. 

    Vijai Saxena, head of the naval architecture department at Pratibha Shipping Company, the vessel owner, said a ninemember team from maritime company Smit International, Singapore, has planned the salvage operation with data from the Indian Naval Hydrographic Department’s tide table. 

    “The table predicts that water around the ship will reach a height of 1.1 metres at 3pm on Monday,” said Saxena. “If the high tide does not materialise as expected, the operation will be deferred to Friday, when the tide forecasts the water level at 1.03 metres at 4.55pm.” He said the team is taking into account various factors including wind direction and possible damage to the vessel while planning the operation. “The tug will tow the ship bow-first towards the sea,” he said. 

    “The salvage team will have to tow out the ship carefully to prevent further damage to the keel or propellers,” said a senior official of the directorate-general of shipping. Once the ship is taken out to sea, divers will photograph the hull, keel and propellers to assess the extent of damage caused by the ship running aground, he said. 

    Experts said the salvage team will face a major challenge in manoeuvring the ship out to sea while ensuring that it does not tilt and capsize, an outcome that would not only damage the vessel but also result in the possible leak of the heavy fuel on board.   Officials said nearly 10,000 tonnes of ballast water will be drained out to make the vessel light. “It is already free of cargo. Reducing the ballast will make it easier for the vessel to float in high tide,” an official said. Ballast water is used to stabilise vessels, especially large ships that carry cargo. 

    The directorate general of shipping official said the salvage team is confident that it will be able to extricate the ship with the tug Malaviya. Another tug sent by the directorate general of shipping from Mumbai is heading for Chennai to provide additional towing power if needed. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
7th Nov. 2012.

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