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Crew ditched Pavit in haste: Manager

For nearly three days from June 26,as 999-tonne tanker MT Pavit rolled and pitched ominously in stormy seas off the coast of Oman with its engine refusing to fire,the 13-member crew on board were apparently given repeated technical advice and suggestions from the ship’s Dubai-based operators over satellite phone and e-mail.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai |
August 12, 2011 4:11:18 am

For nearly three days from June 26,as 999-tonne tanker MT Pavit rolled and pitched ominously in stormy seas off the coast of Oman with its engine refusing to fire,the 13-member crew on board were apparently given repeated technical advice and suggestions from the ship’s Dubai-based operators over satellite phone and e-mail.

The manager-operator firm,Prime Tankers,has slammed the master for choosing to abandon what they claim was an absolutely sea-worthy vessel “hastily,in panic” even before a tug boat could be sent for help.

Captain Jugwinder Singh Brar,Managing Director of Prime Tankers,in Mumbai for the last few days to oversee salvage operations of the ship that has been stuck at Juhu beach for 11 days now,said Pavit was “in excellent condition”,a fact he says is buttressed by its safe month-long drift to the Mumbai coast. While authorities will investigate whether the Coast Guard relied on an inconclusive news report to remove the maritime alert regarding the unmanned vessel,Brar says the saga was easily avoidable,had the crew not panicked.

“From 11:30 pm local time on the night of June 26 when the engine stopped,we were in touch with the crew repeatedly,giving technical support and asking them to check various technical aspects to see if the engine could be restarted. Unfortunately,the crew could not tell us what exactly was wrong,” said Brar,adding that it is unusual for engine failure or sea-sick seamen to be cited as a reason for a master to abandon a well maintained vessel.

“We tried to convince them… said we would arrange a tugboat,” said Brar. “Three crew members were suffering from sea-sickness,the engine was off and the vessel buffeted with water. “The captain panicked,took a hasty decision and left the ship.”

The master,Captain Ajay Singh from Punjab,has been incommunicado since Pavit reached the Mumbai shore. It was Singh’s first voyage with Prime Tankers.

Brar,who was charged by the Mumbai Police for negligence and released on bail,said he expects the crew will regret their decision in hindsight. “But the only person suffering now is the owner.”

Refusing to believe that Pavit had gone down,Brar said he contacted UK Maritime Trade Operations office in Dubai,but no additional information was forthcoming.

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