The Ro-Pax ferry that was launched between Dahej and Ghogha, across the Gulf of Khambhat, last month got stalled mid-sea with over 400 passengers and vehicles on board Wednesday afternoon. The passengers were stuck for about three hours before two tugs were called-in, and the vessel — Voyage Symphony of South Korean origin — was towed to the Ghogha terminal in Bhavnagar district.
“It was on its way from Dahej (in Bharuch district) to Ghogha when the incident happened. It was just three nautical miles away from the Ghogha terminal when the alarms on the vessel started ringing. So as per our standard operating procedure, we had to stop the engine,” Chetan Contractor, chairman and managing director of Indigo Seaways Pvt Ltd that manages and operates the ferry service told The Indian Express.
The ferry service, a public-private partnership with the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), was launched on October 27 by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. It cuts the distance between Ghogha and Dahej via sea route to just 30 km, compared to 300 km by road.
Contractor said that the engines of the vessel were shut down mid-sea for the safety of passengers. “The captain stopped the engine because there were passengers onboard… The captain anchored the vessel and checked the engines and found that the temperature was too high to repair them onboard,” he said.
Explaining the delay in the trip that usually takes less than 90 minutes, Contractor said, “Our tugs are small and can only push the vessel. We needed bigger tugs that could pull the vessel. So, we hired them locally and it took sometime to arrive… But all the passengers are safe.”
The two remaining trips for the day were later cancelled.
“We can take a call on future trips only once the engineers are onboard and conduct an inspection,” Contractor added.
The ferry has separate cabins of business, executive and economy class of passengers, and ticket price varies between Rs 200 and Rs 400 per person for a single trip. According to official sources, Voyage Symphony was built as a passenger ship in South Korea, but after it was purchased it was retro-fitted in China to help carry vessels in the lower two decks.