Salvage team says de-ballasting 7,000 tonnes of water helped turn the vessel

After being the star attraction for beach crowds at Nochikuppam over the last 11 days, the stranded vessel, MT Pratibha Cauvery, was on Sunday tugged away amid applause and cheers from a large gathering of onlookers.

Though tow vessel Malaviya 21 arrived here on November 5 to salvage the vessel after it ran aground under the fury of Cyclone Nilam two weeks ago, tugging operations could commence only on November 8.

In its maiden attempt, the tow boat from Kakinada was able to turn the stranded vessel by six degrees. But the operations had to be called off when the tow rope snapped. The salvage team was not able to make much headway in the subsequent attempts till Friday evening.

Authorities then decided to de-ballast 7,000 tonnes of water from the ship, using several electrical submersible pumps to make it lighter. The de-ballasting was completed by Saturday evening and it helped tilt the vessel by 10 degrees towards the east. While the posterior of the ship, including the propeller set was under water, the front portion was in the air. To balance the vessel, 1,000 tonnes of water was pumped into the front portion.

It was at 6.30 p.m. the ship was successfully salvaged by the private firm on its seventh attempt and hauled away. Representatives of the salvage team said de-ballasting nearly 7,000 tonnes of water helped turn the vessel. The vessel would be taken to the outer anchorage of the Chennai Port Trust and kept there for the next few days.

Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan was among those who monitored the operations during the day.