It will bail out ships pushed into distress by rough weather

An Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) has been posted by the Director General of Shipping for the first time on the eastern coast. The move is aimed at providing timely help to vessels pushed into distress by rough weather and their stranded crew.

C.P. Srivastava, an offshore tug owned by the Shipping Corporation of India, is currently berthed in the south quay of Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) and its services will be available till October 2.

Thereafter, it would be decided by the DG Shipping. However, those in the trade felt it should be berthed in ChPT till the end of monsoon, given the past experiences.

Two vessels, OSM Arena and Pratibha Cauvery, ran aground during cyclones ‘Thane’ and ‘Nilam.’ The OSM Arena ran aground on December 30, 2011 and Pratibha Cauvery on October 31, 2012. Damage caused to Pratibha Cauvery was more severe. Six sailors lost their lives and their family members were compensated on approaching the Madras High Court.

Pratibha Cauvery was salvaged with a help of private tug Malaviya 21 from Kakinada. Even though an SCI tug was available, Malaviya 21 was deployed as it had more bollard pull.

In the case of OSM Arena, the rescue was carried out by an expert team from ChPT. Both Pratibha Cauvery and OSM Arena were sold after being termed un-seaworthy. While Pratibha Cauvery was towed to the Chittagong Ship-breaking Yard last month, OSM Arena, renamed M.V. Yashwi, is yet to begin its last journey to Chittagong.

It was sold to a private party for Rs.17.10 crore last June and had settled Port dues of Rs.4.62 crore. In fact, the vessel is in the outer anchorage of ChPT since February 2010.

Talking to The Hindu, a ChPT official said: “The vessel is anchored outside the port’s limit. It does not have enough manpower and cannot be started. If something goes, wrong who will carry out relief work? The present ETV is meant for the east coast and will be available only on demand. It has a capacity of 60 tonnes of bollard pull less than that of Malaviya 21. Right now, we can’t predict whether ETV will be available for us during monsoon time.”

Since June, the new owners of Yashwi had been assuring that the vessel would be towed out soon. But, the deadline gets postponed every week.

A surveyor from Singapore has laid out five conditions before it could be actually towed out. Thereafter, it would be surveyed again by the surveyor as well as Indian Register of Shipping. Then it can sail out, said another official.

“We are also eagerly waiting for the vessel to sail out, as we do not want to witness one more tragedy,” the official added.