Tamil Nadu

How it happened

Early on January 28, when the skies were clear, the Isle of Man flagged vessel BW Maple departed from Kamarajar Port in Ennore after offloading most of its cargo, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). At the same time, Indian-flagged vessel MT Dawn Kanchipuram was entering the port with a full load of petroleum oil and lubricants (POL).

On any given day, it would have been a regular event. But, on Saturday, things went awry. After having sailed two nautical miles (3.7 km) from the shore, LPG tanker Maple proceeded towards Visakhapatnam, while oil tanker Dawn Kanchipuram entered the main channel of Kamarajar Port.

It was at this time the pilot of Kamarajar Port disembarked from the LPG tanker and allowed it to sail on its own course. The LPG tanker team was led by Capt. Vinod Sahadevan.

Officers onboard MT Dawn were being directed on how to navigate the ship in a safe and secure manner. Even as Captain Shambhu Nath Jha and other officers were following the instructions, they saw the BW Maple at a close range and scurried to avoid a collision.

“There is a small bend in the channel. Outbound vessels have to take a left turn to reach the high seas. But they have to do this after giving way for inbound vessels. On Saturday, the LPG tanker proceeded further without waiting for the oil tanker and hit it. There was no communication between the vessels, and hence, the collision,” said a top official of Kamarajar Port.

“Usually, the officers of inbound and outbound vessels talk to each other to avoid collision. But in this case, they did not talk to each other. By the time they realised it, the vessels were too close to each other,” said Capt. Subhash Kumar, adviser to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust.

“While the LPG tanker suffered a major dent, the oil tanker had two holes — below and on top of the vessel. There was a hole beneath the water mark, and this resulted in water entering the engine room, and the leakage of one tonne of bunker oil. Water is being pumped out continuously from the engine room,” said Capt. Subhash Kumar, after inspecting both the vessels.

M.A. Bhaskarachar, Chairman-cum-Managing-Director, Kamarajar Port, said the ship would be berthed for two days for dispatching cargo, and thereafter, it would set sail for repairs. “There was a minor damage on the bulbous bow and flare of the LPG tanker, while MT Dawn Kanchipuram sustained a breach in the space forward of accommodation between engine room and tanks,” he said.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 8:02:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/How-it-happened/article17118946.ece

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