Salvaging the tanker proves to be a challenging task

Salvaging the grounded oil tanker vessel M T Pratibha Cauvery was a challenging task, despite marginal progress made during the third round of towing operations on Saturday, said Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan on Saturday.

After visiting the vessel, Mr. Vasan told reporters that two emergency tow vessels — Malaviya 21 from Kakinada and MCI Ratna from Mumbai — were called. The second vessel was expected to commence its work shortly.

In the last two days, four attempts were made to pull out the ship into the deep sea. On the third occasion, the stranded ship moved 10 degrees, raising hopes of further improvement. “This is an arduous task,” Mr. Vasan said. The dead weight of the ship accounted for about 30,000 tonnes, which included 9,000 tonnes of ballast water.

On the advice of technical experts, the ballast water was being pumped out. This would help in lightening the ship. The water pumping work was in progress for the past 18 hours and another six hours were required to pump out the entire quantity of water, Mr. Vasan said.

Various agencies such as Navy, Coast Guard, Port Trust and Mercantile Marine Department were engaged in a coordinated manner. They were working out several strategies and trying out technological options to salvage the ship. Quoting officers, Mr. Vasan expressed the hope that in the next two or three days, there was a possibility of moving the ship from its present location.

Answering question about possible pollution in case of leak of 356 tonnes of furnace oil from the ship, Mr. Vasan said the entire quantity of oil had been sealed.

It would not pose any threat to the environment. Only after a probe, ordered by the Director General of Shipping into the incident, which would be completed in a month, can the factual position be known.

Answering a question whether the ship was owned by a political leader, Mr. Vasan termed it as speculation.

When journalists asked how the ship was allowed to sail even after the expiry of the validity of documents on October 1, Mr. Vasan replied that all the issues would be examined once the Ministry got the report of Director General of Shipping.

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