Sailors supplied with clothes and footwear, but uncertainty over destination remains

For the beleaguered crew of the stranded MT Pratibha Cauvery, Deepavali brought a bit of much-needed relief.

Based on a request from the crew, Seafarer’s Port Welfare Committee Chairman R. Shanmugam and its Secretary K. Sreekumar on Monday supplied 29 pairs of jeans, shirts and sandals. The ship was stranded during cyclone Nilam on October 31. It is now stationed about three nautical miles away from the Chennai Port Trust area.

As the ship lost its anchors during the cyclone, it is being held by an anchor-handling and towing vessel, Malaviya 21, and manned by members of a salvage team.

The permission of the ChPT has been sought to berth it in Bharthi Dock (BD) 2.

Salvage incomplete

Talking to The Hindu, marine experts said, “The salvage operation is not yet over. We can only declare it complete once the ship is berthed inside and released by the salvage team to the crew members. The service of Malaviya 21 is available till Tuesday evening and we hope to engage another tow boat till the anchor gets repaired.”

Reiterating their stand, a ChPT official said they could not afford to provide berthing for this vessel in BD2 as it was meant for docking oil tankers that brought in edible oil and fuel for power plants. “Given the power situation in the State, the blocking of the berth could cause an energy crisis. We have already lost one berth for OSM Arena,” he added.

The other alternative is to take it to L&T Kattupalli port for repair work. However, informed sources said L&T (the co-promoter) was yet to hand over the port to the State government authorities and hence they would not be in a position to welcome it.

Lost documents

According to Mr. Sreekumar, out of the 37 sailors, 22 had lost their passports, continuous discharge certificates, mobile phones and laptops during the storm.

The belongings of 15 sailors, who were rescued on the second day, are said to be intact on board.