‘Misjudgment caused collision of ships’

Investigation into the first-ever incident of such nature on the south-east coast begins

January 29, 2017 11:49 pm | Updated January 30, 2017 08:27 am IST - Chennai:

Coast Guard Pollution Response Team tackling the oil spill in the sea at Ernavoor, north Chennai, on Sunday.

Coast Guard Pollution Response Team tackling the oil spill in the sea at Ernavoor, north Chennai, on Sunday.

A day after an oil tanker and an LPG tanker ship collided at the outer anchorage of the Kamarajar Port in Ennore here, investigation into what led to the accident has begun. The outcome of the investigation would be known in two or three days, sources said.

On Sunday, Capt. Subash Kumar, Advisor to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT, Navi Mumbai), boarded both the vessels and inspected them thoroughly. The collision happens to be the first-ever recorded incident of this nature on the South-East coast.

According to Kamarajar Port authorities, the collision took place at around 4 a.m. on Saturday between the 225 metre-long MT BW Maple carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and the 181-metre MT Dawn Kanchipuram, which had petroleum oil lubricants (POL).

While MT Dawn was steered by Capt. Shambhu Nath Jha, MT BW Maple was steered by Capt. Vinod Sahadevan.

“On the face of it, it seems to be a human error due to misjudgment. There can’t be any misunderstanding of language as both the vessels were led by Indian masters. However, it is difficult to arrive at a conclusion,” said a port official who has been monitoring the situation since Saturday. Though he has forwarded a brief note to the Directorate General of Shipping on the issue, he declined to share the details.

Containing oil spill

A Coast Guard Regional Headquarters release said a notice has already been issued to the master and the owner of the vessel under MS Shipping Act Section 356 (J) urging them to take all necessary action to contain the oil spill and restore the environment as it prevailed before the accident.

MT BW Maple came from Mumbai and it was sailing towards Vishakhapatnam with some quantity of LPG after offloading certain quantity of cargo at Kamarajar Port. MT Dawn Kanchipuram was approaching Kamarajar Port with diesel fuel and lube oil. Due to the impact of the collision, BW Maple’s bow struck just in front of the superstructure on the port side hull. The Dawn Kanchipuram’s hull was breached and several tonnes of oil leaked. However, there were no reports of injury or casualty to the staff of both the vessels.

Initial assessment by the Coast Guard Pollution Response team (East) found oil slick of 50X30 metre along the rock beach area. The team carried out a mopping operation, which is expected to continue on Monday.

A Senior Vessel Technical Advisor said that it was sheer luck that there was no major damage to any side or a major blast, even though both the vessels were carrying cargoes which could have created havoc.

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