The decommissioned naval aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant is a week away from being tethered close to shore, as the next favourable high tide is forecast on June 12.
On May 30, the last high tide day, the vessel moved only a few metres forward, and still remains some distance from shore.
Even as the next hearing in the Supreme Court is a month away, the vessel’s new owner, IB Commercial Pvt Ltd, wants to secure her before the monsoon commences.
IB Commercial purchased the vessel in April at an e-auction for Rs 68 crore, but have been prevented from breaking it down for scrap due to a petition launched by the Save Vikrant Committee. INS Vikrant was moved out of the Naval Dockyard last Thursday and entered civilian waters, and is at present berthed at the Darukhana ship-breaking yard, where it awaits being broken down for scrap. The water is too shallow for the vessel to drift closer to shore.
Apart from the Navy, which conducts aerial sorties several times a day, the vessel is also guarded by the local police, and a private security agency contracted by IB Commercial.
“Once the tide is high enough on June 12, we hope the vessel moves closer to shore so we can properly secure it. Once the monsoon hits Mumbai, the seas will become rough, and there will be an added danger of the vessel drifting away if not properly tied. But we are also hoping for a good high tide the closer we get to the monsoon,” said an official from IB Commercial.
Three large motorised pulley machines are on the shore and thick ropes have been suspended from them to the vessel. Private security guards have also been placed inside the vessel.
Several thieves are known to roam the waters around Sewri in dhows after dark, looking to mount small ships and the imposing INS Vikrant is the largest prize currently on offer.
A security guard insisted however, that the current arrangements would easily keep thieves at bay. “No suspect vessel has come near Vikrant in the last few days. We have also maintained a 24 hour watch from land,” he said.