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Friday, June 14, 2013

OSM Arena continues to be stranded at Marina beach.....

Chennaites turned out in large number to see the stranded MT Pratibha Cauvery… the vessel has since been towed on its funeral voyage… is Chennai becoming home for abandoned vessels… Pratibha Cauvery, its sister ship Pratibha Warna, the long waiting MV OSM Arena….. gleaning the records of Chennai port observe that another vessel ‘Crystal’ is at the Outer Anchorage at the option of its Agents…  I had earlier posted of an invidious comparison…….a mighty ship with a lowly bird – but OSM Arena and Emus  suffered similar fate – no owner to claim for, no body to maintain and take care, nobody willing to maintain, people willing to sell but ownership in dispute  and still none to buy – no money – debts keep rising and uncertain future is totally bleak..

For a morning walker, Marina beach offers many comforts.. there is the cool sea breeze, the lovely sight of rising Sun, young, old, fast, slow, and people of varied hues indulging in chit-chatting, eating and drinking the various health drinks ! that are sold on pavements.  You can see people walking, walking fasting, jogging, sprinting, skipping, doing physical exercises, yoga, laughing out loud – more – all law unto themselves – thinking and spreading that these are the passport to good health. You can hear the sea and when near sea the waves jumping and touching the shore and then submitting themselves to the shore but trying to comeback to conquer again ! –  then for those interested there are the fishing boats tearing out the silence of the morning,  bigger ships – ships  anchored in the middle of sea, ~ as you imagine the reasons for its being there. 

Almost for more than a fortnight now, there is a ship – appearing to be a General Cargo vessels headed out of the Chennai port but standing still… to me and to a few other Marina walkers, it is intriguing as to why a vessel should be there in mid-sea with no movement at all…. It in all probability is Korean vessel MV OSM Arena and to those of who have been reading its misfortunes, there is nothing to wonder – lot to worry and feel sad for the forlorn ship.  A peep at the Chennai port records reveals that OSM Arena is in Outer anchorage – pending litigations.

The ill-fated South Korean flagged Bulk carrier cargo ship with IMO No. 8411334 and dimensions of 190 M length and 32 m beam with  call sign  - DSOC5 -  ‘OSM Arena’ got mired in to troubles one after another and got struck below the bow in muddy waters literally and legally.  Chennai was not the happiest of its ‘port of call’ when it arrived here in Jan 2010. Calcutta High Court passed an order that the said vessel should not  leave Port of Chennai without the leave of Calcutta High Court. Orders were passed directing the Custom authorities to ensure that the said vessel does not set sail without leave of the High Court, Calcutta. There was the announcement of sale but no takers and perhaps the vessel forgot its primary quality of sailing……  then came the ‘cyclone Thane’  in Dec 2011 -  moved the unfortunate OSM Arena from the outer anchorage..With efforts of Madras Port it was salvaged; by that time Chennai Port  was already cursing its fate of allowing the vessel and then securing its arrest.

The last thing that sailors would do ~ of abandoning the vessel, had to be performed as the crew left the vessel OSM Arena citing distress; they were reportedly granted shore passes on Apr. 10, 2013. Leaving the vessel in the outer anchorage of Chennai Port, the 14 crew members entered the city, in a boat, via the fishing harbour.  Soon there after, the ship’s captain, Yethi Ka, informed the Madras High Court that he had ordered the crew to abandon ship as it was unstable ~ that way there was to be some light at the end of tunnel  for the sailors.

It triggered a spate of litigations and to cap them all,  LMJ International Limited filed a Transfer Petition (Civil) no. 665 of 2011 before the Supreme Court of India with application for stay.  After some adjournments as no appearance was made on behalf of the petitioner, the Hon’ble Court dismissed the case for non-prosecution by its order dated 9th July 2012. 

The vessel for sure would not be in good shape now.  Earlier, there were  suggestions to bring the vessel inside the port, but the authorities refused as there was nobody to pay the berth charges. Chennai port  is reported to charge Rs.93,000 a day for the berthing. The vessel now would be owning in crores even when remaining pathetically in outer anchorage. 

On 3rd April 2013, an order was passed in the Calcutta High Court in GA No. 1063 / 2013 filed by LMJ against the owners and parties interested in the vessel.   The plaintiff had appealed against the part of the order that permitted the Port Trust Authority to initiate proceeding for recovery of the port charges.   It was stated that once the ship was arrested at the instance of the appellant, the plaintiff having the carriage of proceeding must bear all necessary expenses that might be incurred for keeping the ship under arrest. The Court directed  the Port Trust Authority to stay their hands for a period of 4 weeks to enable the appellant-plaintiff to clear off the port dues.  The Order categorically stated that  the Port Trust Authority would be free to proceed with the sale after expiry of 4 weeks' period in case their dues are not met.

On 6th May 2013, more was to happen at Calcutta High Court in As No. 3/2010 with GA No. 1607 of 2010.  The advocate for the petitioner submitted that his client is not desirous of proceeding with the application, as the dispute has been settled outside Court.  In view fot he same the application was dismissed as withdrawn……..

The vessel is still in waters… waiting for an euthanasia … the funeral voyage and eventual dismantling in a breaking yard… sad..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th June 2013.

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