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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

another 'hit and run' at Sea - MV Grietje held in Chennai

In April 2012, I had posted of ‘hit and run’ accident at Sea involving a bulk carrier.  Initially it was reported as 2 but subsequently 5 fishermen were reported to have died in a  ghastly accident, that occurred 12 nautical miles off the Alappuzha coast in Kerala in the early hours of 1st Mar 2012.  The fishing  trawler - MFV Don No.1 - was fishing in the Arabian Sea near Alappuzha district of Kerala on March 1, when the rogue ship 'travelling at high speed and being navigated rashly and negligently' dashed against the trawler.   The rogue vessel was later identified as  M.V. Prabhu Daya, a 52,822 DWT 2001-built bulk carrier enroute from Panaji toSingapore.  Much analysis was done at Chennai and it was stated that the vessel  had made some unusual diversions near the accident location, as revealed by the  electronic charts prepared by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). 

Now there are reports of another ship, this time Antigua Barbuda [AG] flagged General cargo carrier MV Grietje with Call Sign: V2LN and IMO no.: 9147708.  Sad to read the news of T. Anandan (45), a fisherman from Tiruvottiyur Kuppam, going  missing in the sea in the early hours after the boat he was in was hit by a ship. The small fibre reinforced plastic boat was cut in half and two others — R. Viji (30) and S. Santhosh (19) — swam around for two hours before they were rescued by another fishing boat.

Reports quoting the survivors state that the boat engine stalled; they were trying to repair it when the ship suddenly struck cutting the boat badly and throwing people into waters.  Two of them were rescued while the other could not be found despite massive search operations  ~ being closer to shores, it is stated that mobiles phones do work but fall silent near Chennai Port, MGR Samadhi and the Light House as these areas are not covered by the telecom towers. Fishing Harbour police registered a man missing case. Fishermen associations called upon the police to take action against the errant ship that ran into the boat.

It was suspected to be a cargo ship that  knocked down the boat; the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has identified eight vessels that passed through the region between 4am to 8am. Coast Guard sources said the incident happened between eight nautical miles and 30 nautical miles from the Chennai coast. "We have drawn a list of ships that were in the range around that time. There was only one ship which was in the eight-nautical mile range, which is now at the port. An underwater investigation team is looking for signs of any collision on the ship. Seven other vessels which were within 30 nautical miles are also under our radar," said an official.

For the two survivors, it was a great escape.  They had reportedly been working on the snag after fixing red and green lights on a pole which was hoisted as a warning sign. The ship rammed the boat; they dived and surfaced after the ship passed by, and clung on to the capsized boat. Representatives of various fishermen’s associations on Monday claimed that based on inputs provided to them by the Chennai Port Trust, they have identified the ship that ran over a fishing boat killing a fisherman on March 16. That vessel based on the  coordinates and timing is stated to be MV Grietja.

At the meeting, the officials  had stated that Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) would review the ship’s course chart to check for variance in speed to due to the collision. The representatives argued that the collision would not have had any impact on the ship’s speed as the boat was too small and the net was also cut by the fishermen. They insisted on a physical examination of the ship.

It is now stated that the general cargo ship, MV Grietje has been detained and inspection is going on.  Officials state that it is  too early to confirm that the ship, built in the year 2000, was involved in the hit-and-run case. “We have to look for the signs of accident and also confirm the course of the 152 metres long ship before officially arresting the ship,” an official noted. The  local fishing community has decided to agitate in front of the entry and exit channels of Chennai port on Monday, demanding the immediate arrest of the vessel that hit the fibre boat on Saturday.  A Fishermen association was quoted as stating that they had planned to show their protest by blocking the entry and exit channel of Chennai Port Trust  by assembling about 200 boats.

The Hindu reports that Senior officials are now verifying and according to sources, M.V. Grietje has finished loading operations on March 17, but was not allowed to leave by the port officials pending the outcome of the probe being carried out by the Coast Guard, the Police and Mercantile Marine Departments.  The case is now with DG Shipping as it is a marine fatality.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th March 2013.
inputs acknowledged : deccan chronicle and The Hindu.

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