The Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) on Wednesday allotted a berth to MT Pratibha Cauvery at Jawahar Dock on the condition that it gets its anchors and chains fixed within the next 48 hours.
Even as the 31 crew members of the stranded vessel are struggling to get their dues from the owners, a new set of eight members arrived here as replacements.
The new crew members have been provided accommodation in a hotel on Moore Street in George Town. However, Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) officials said they could not be allowed to board the vessel until it was declared fully fit.
According to informed sources, an agent was assisting technical crew to get the ship’s anchors fixed and the Indian Register of Shipping to carry out an underwater survey to find out whether the vessel had suffered damage during cyclone Nilam.
In any case, the vessel has to move to outer anchorage by Saturday. Marine experts said for the time being, the vessel would be managed by the salvers, who are trained people, and essential staff. The new crew could step in only when the salvers completed their work and the dues of the existing crew were discharged honourably. Moreover, the owners had to complete the formalities as per the article of agreements, as the crew left the vessel due to force majeure.
“We do not know how these sailors agreed to join the group when everyone in the trade is aware of the financial status of the company,” the experts said.
Knowing very well about the ship’s lack of seaworthiness, it was surprising that a new set of crew agreed to work in the vessel, said Majoj Joy, National Coordinator, Sailors Helpline.
During his maiden visit to Chennai on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Director General of Shipping, Gautam Chatterjee, interacted with the representatives of the Chennai Port Trust, Seafarers’, Indian Maritime University and ship owners on how to train cadets in a better way that would ensure them of getting jobs immediately.
ChPT officials also suggested some sort of policy should be devised for sailors in distress and a redress mechanism to help those stuck in stranded vessels. Since October 2012, over 55 sailors are stranded in two vessels – Pratibha Cauvery and Pratibha Warna – and their salaries have not been paid since July 2012.