Tanker detained for 26 days at Bandar Abbas in Iran

Merchant tanker Desh Shanti, which was detained for 26 days at Bandar Abbas in Iran on the charge of causing oil pollution, arrived at Visakhapatnam Port on Wednesday morning.

The tanker belonging to Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) was carrying 140,000 tonne of crude from Iraq, part of it for delivery to Hindustan Petroleum Corporation’s Visakh Refinery here.

Crew in good health

The tanker was released on September 6 following hectic diplomatic parleys and an undertaking by SCI that they would pay the penalties if the oil spillage charge was proved by independent experts.

“The crude carrier anchored at Visakhapatnam Port at 8 a.m. and we found the morale of the Captain and the crew very high. They are all in good health and in high spirits,” said Capt. Sunil Thapar, Director (Bulk Carrier & Tanker Division) of SCI.

Capt. Thapar, who flew in here from Mumbai to meet the crew, told The Hindu that they were thankful to the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Shipping and other Central agencies for their initiative to get the ship released.

To a question, he said the SCI stood by its contention that MT Desh Shanti had not caused any marine pollution off Iran coast.

Oil stain

The authorities in Iran had alleged that the tanker had caused oily ballast water, 48 km away from Lavan Island in Persian Gulf.

This subsequently led to a 16-km-long oil stain, an Iranian official was quoted as saying after detention of the vessel.

“We are happy that the tanker has reached its destination safely. A major part of the crude is meant for our refinery and the rest for other clients,” said HPCL Executive Director and in-charge of Visakh Refinery V.V.R. Narasimham.

The agents for SCI – Pattabhi Ramayya of Garuda Pattabhi Ramayya & Co. – said the tanker would anchor at Visakhapatnam Port for a few days till the discharge of the cargo meant for HPCL.

Bilateral ties

While releasing the tanker, Iranian authorities stated that the detention of the tanker was a technical matter and it should not affect the strong bilateral relations between India and their country.