Snags hit 3 of 4 Sealegs,render them out of action

Warranty of amphibian boats procured to secure the coastline long over; staff not trained to carry out repairs by themselves.

Written by Sagnik Chowdhury | Mumbai | Published: January 23, 2012 4:09:43 am

Three of the four amphibious patrol boats,Sealegs,procured by the Mumbai police during the capacity building exercise post-26/11,are defunct. Aimed at enhancing security of the city’s coastline,the Sealegs had been procured at a cost of 1.6 crore from a New Zealand company and paraded at Girgaum Chowpatty during the first anniversary of the attacks.

Two of them have not been used for well over a year owing to serious mechanical faults and another has been out of action after it developed problems a few months ago,Newsline has learnt. The lone functional boat has barely clocked any sea hours,sources said.

To make matters worse,with the manufacturer’s warranty expiring in 2010-end,the three Sealegs are likely to gather rust,as the Mumbai Police is not equipped to carry out serious repairs on them.

Sources revealed that the Mumbai Police’s Motor Transport (MT) department had recently given up trying to put the Sealegs back in action and suggested that a team be sent to New Zealand for training,so that repairs can be carried out. The proposal was reportedly shot down by the police brass.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Motor Transport),K Y Joshi,confirmed,“Three Sealegs have been damaged. Two of them have not been used for over a year now. The inward and outward engines are damaged and a tyre is burst in one of the vessels. The other has engine and suspension problems. The third boat developed gearbox problems and has been out of service.”

Surprisingly,the Mumbai Police did not procure any spare tyres for the craft at the time of procurement.

“In case of the boat that was recently damaged,we are still attempting to repair its gearshaft in our workshop. However,the other two Sealegs need major repairs that cannot be done by us. Imported parts are required and we do not have necessary technical training to carry out such repairs,” Joshi admitted.

When contacted,Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik said,“There are serious problems with the Sealegs due to which they have not been used. There was a proposal from the MT department for a trip to New Zealand for training a team in repairs. However,other alternatives will be examined.”

In August 2009,the Mumbai Police had placed orders for Sealegs. The craft were commissioned by the police on November 6,2009.

“The annual maintenance contract (AMC) for the Sealegs was only for a year. Now there are plans in pipeline to recruit a Mumbai-based company,Ocean Blue,for maintenance of the Sealegs. Now on,an AMC of three years will be drawn up,” said Joshi.

While the sanctioned strength of the MT department is 802 technicians,348 posts are vacant. Similarly,of the sanctioned 2,787 trained drivers sanctioned,701 are vacant as there has been no recruitment for four years now.

“Shortage of technicians is a huge problem and hampers repair work on vehicles. In case of drivers,a dedicated police driver has been trained in preventive maintenance,but not an ordinary constable. Shortage of trained police drivers adds to the problem,” said Joshi.

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