The RoPax vessel, Voyage Symphony, underwent rigorous sea-trials Saturday ahead of the virtual launch of the Ghogha-Hazira ferry service by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8. On Friday, the vessel was stalled mid-sea for over an hour during a trial run after it reported an “electronic malfunction”, officials said.
Chetan Contractor, chairman of Detox Group, the parent company of Indigo Seaways that owns the vessel, said, “The ferry is fully operational now. On Saturday morning, the vessel sailed from Hazira and underwent sea trials,” he said.
The trial run of the RoPax ferry had started from Ghogha around 9 am on Friday. Sources in the Indigo Seaways said a total of 70 people and eight trucks were onboard and the vessel was likely to reach the Ro-Ro Adani Hazira Terminal in Surat around 1 pm. Due to the technical glitch, the vessel reached Surat at 6 pm, they said.
“When the ferry moves out of the port, it is usually runs on DC (or direct current) from batteries. As the vessel gains speed, it automatically shifts to AC (or alternating current). This changeover did not happen (on Friday) and the batteries got discharged. Some electronic parts got damaged when the crew tried to manually control the steering. They had to stop the ferry after travelling about nine nautical miles from Ghogha,” Contractor said.
Stating that it was the first time that such a problem was noted in the vessel, Contractor added, the damaged parts were “replaced around midnight by the automation team”.
Voyage Symphony, which was earlier plying on the Ghogha-Dahej route, has been idling at the Ghogha terminal after the RoPax services were suspended due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown in March. The vessel is now being used on the new Ghogha-Hazira route after Indigo Seaways Pvt Ltd signed a tripartite agreement with Deendayal Port Trust and Gujarat Maritime Board on November 3.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Modi tweeted, “Tomorrow (Sunday) is an important day for Gujarat. Surat and Saurashtra will be joined through a sea route. I will be inaugurating RoPax ferry service between Hazira and Ghogha through a videoconference. This will not only save time and fuel, it will also boost industry and trade.”
Union Minister for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya reviewed the preparations of the RoPax launch on Saturday. Mandaviya and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani are expected to remain present for the inauguration on Sunday.
Captain D K Manral, the CEO of Indigo Seaways, said, “The vessel is ready for the voyage on Sunday. We have started taking online bookings from November 3 onwards, and until now we have got bookings for 8,500 passengers, 2,000 cars, 600 bikes, and 350 trucks from Surat to Ghogha for the coming days. This vessel will sail every day with three trips.”
The vessel has 70 business class seats priced at Rs 680 per passenger, 370 executive class seats at Rs 550 per passenger, and 100 economy class seats at Rs 350 each. “It also has a Cambay lounge with 14 seats, where meals and other services can be availed at Rs 1,000 per passenger,” Manral said.
The three-deck RoPax vessel can carry 30 trucks each weighing 50 metric tonnes, 100 passenger cars, and 500 passengers at a time.
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