‘Drifting’ vessel has Coast Guard on alert

A 23,000-TON oil tanker,which has reportedly been drifting from its anchor position for the past two days,reached close to Madh Island Sunday

Written by Gautam S Mengle | Mumbai | Published: June 17, 2013 12:53 am

A 23,000-TON oil tanker,which has reportedly been drifting from its anchor position for the past two days,reached close to Madh Island Sunday.

Official sources said the ship – Pratibha Tapi,was an oil tanker with a gross tonnage of 23,926 tonnes and belonged to Pratibha Shipping Company. Its proximity to the shore has sparked fears of it running aground.

The vessel is being monitored by Coast Guard,with other related agencies on standby. It had been anchored at 12 nautical miles off Mumbai coast for the past four-five months along with another ship,Pratibha Indrayani.

Pratibha Shipping,which is reportedly facing a severe financial crisis,has decided to approach Bombay High Court Monday and seek relief for “maintenance” of the ship. “The ship is in the last stages of sale negotiation. It got stuck as the vessel was arrested by Indian Register of Shipping (classification society) because of which the buyers,a Dubai-based company,are yet to take custody.”

“Tapi is in ballast condition and has a skeletal crew of four persons and minimal fuel. What we know so far is its anchor started dragging owing to the swell of the ocean,causing it to drift. It ultimately reached a spot around 2.5 nautical miles from Madh Island,where it has stabilised,” said a Navy officer.

Kiran Koli,chairman,Madh Fishermen’s Association,said,“Some fishermen spotted the vessel around 5 am Sunday. We informed Coast Guard,local police and Versova Sagri police.”

The Coast Guard,however,is only monitoring the vessel’s movements at this stage. In a recent meeting with Coast Guard and other agencies,the vessel owner reportedly said he could not afford tug boats as he was bankrupt. However,on Sunday,company officials said they were trying to arrange tug boats. “We have notified agencies such as DG Shipping and Pollution Control Board that there is a risk of the vessel running aground. Although it has stopped at 2.5 nautical miles,it might start drifting again if the weather worsens during high tide,” said an official.

Pratibha Shipping ran into financial trouble a year ago,after which the vessel was stranded at sea,with several crew members being stuck on the ship for nearly two months before they were taken

to shore.

gautam.mengle@expressindia.com

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