It was delayed as the vessel ran aground in a rocky area

Salvage operation to pull back the tug boat, which has remained stuck among the rocks near Pamban rail bridge for the past two weeks after the barge it was towing crashed into the bridge on January 13, commenced on Saturday afternoon.

Shifa Marine, the Tuticorin-based company, which has been entrusted with the work, had been waiting for the full moon day for the water level in the sea to rise. The company connected four of its high power boats to the tug boat and completed preparatory works to pull the 162-tonne twin engine boat.

“We are expecting some high tide later in the day and planning to pull the boat on the wee hours of Sunday,” a company spokesman said.

The vessel moved slightly when it was pulled by the four steel body boats, each with 500 HP, he said.

The salvage operation could not be taken up earlier as the tug boat went aground in a rocky area where the water was only 1.5 metres deep.

The vessel has a V shaped bottom and the company was waiting for the water level to rise to at least 2.5 metres for the boat to float, the spokesman said.

Titagarh, the Kolkota-based company that owns the tug boat, had placed five anchors with the help of Tuticorin company to prevent it from moving towards the bridge.

The barge crashed into the bridge and damaged a pier on January 13, after which, train services between Mandapam and Rameswaram remained suspended for a week. The barge was pulled back the same day, but train services could resume only on January 20.

The barge being taken to Karwar to be handed over to the Indian Navy is presently anchored at the Rameswaram Port.

The tug boat will also be taken to the Rameswaram Port after it is salvaged, sources said.