Thursday turned out to be sluggish for a marine rescue team as their target — MT Pratibha Cauvery — barely budged.
And to top it off, the rope used to tug the vessel snapped less than two hours into the operation. The team will resume salvage operations early on Friday.
According to sources, the rescue team began work at 2 p.m. on Thursday at Nochikuppam. They were able to steer the stranded vessel marginally during high tide. Towing vessel Malaviya 21 tried to pull the vessel from various angles. Around 3.40 p.m., the tow rope snapped. The 20-metre-long rope has to be intertwined before the next round of salvage operation begins. As the tide waters began to recede at 3.52 p.m., the rescue team called it a day.
Marine experts involved in the rescue said they were able to lift the bow (front portion) of the ship by a few metres, while the aft (rear portion) remained more or less at the same level. Water has to be de-ballasted from the stern tank to lift the aft. As the next high tide is expected at 3 a.m., the salvage operation has been postponed to Friday.
On Thursday, the salvage team began rescue operations by removing a portion of ballast water with the help of a portable diesel engine. This would help to make the vessel lighter and lift it from the sea bed. Later, in the afternoon, they removed slush in the diesel tank and started the engine to remove more water.
The services of tug vessel Malaviya 21 will be available only till Friday evening. As there wasn’t much progress with the single-anchor handling and towing vessel from Kakinada, experts are contemplating deploying SCI Ratna to complete the work by Friday. The emergency towing vessel, SCI Ratna , has been kept on standby.
After questioning the crew members of the stranded vessel, the mercantile marine department will submit a report to the directorate general of shipping on December 1.