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Owner ‘missing’,salvor threatens to sell tanker

The company threatened to sell the 999-tonne tanker if its dues are not settled.

Three days after MT Pavit was towed away from Juhu beach to Dighi port in Raigad for repairs,the ship’s Dubai-based owners and managers are untraceable,the salvage company has alleged. The company threatened today to sell the 999-tonne tanker if its dues,running into crores of rupees,are not settled.

The August 15 salvage operation,it has now emerged,was carried out without the participation of Pavit’s owners. The salvor,marine services company Great Offshore Ltd,which now has the ship’s custody,announced that if the cost of salvage and other operations is not paid within 48 hours of demand,it would “take whatever steps may be necessary” by enforcing the maritime lien they hold over the vessel,including its sale.

Pavit was adrift unmanned in the seas off Oman for a month before it beached at Juhu on July 31,sparking outrage over the lapse in India’s coastal security.

According to Great Offshore,a representative of Pavit’s management firm,Prime Tankers,left Mumbai last week without signing the contract for the salvage,and has not been in touch since.

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“We had a letter of award from them,which is an implied contract,and we went ahead with the salvage to comply with directives from the authorities including the Directorate-General of Shipping,the Maharashtra Maritime Board and the port officer,” Capt. Sandeep Kalia,head of salvage operations at Great Offshore,told The Indian Express.

A D-G,Shipping source confirmed that various notices and reminders had been sent to the owners to take delivery of the vessel after settling claims,but there had been no response over the past few days.

Jugwinder Singh Brar,managing director of Prime Tankers,said he was aware of the notifications being sent,and was fed up of running around for permissions.

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“We are considering what steps we may take legally,” he told The Indian Express from Dubai,adding that the salvage had been completed without a proper contract.

Salvaging a 77-m vessel like Pavit could cost a few crore,besides the sums owed to state authorities. The vessel itself is in good condition,sources said,and despite some corrosion,has some more years left in it.

Great Offshore said that while it did not wish to go into litigation,it had no choice. “We are still incurring berthing charges,pilot charges,port charges,surveyor charges and more,” Capt. Kalia said. Government authorities were keen to have the vessel moved,and the investment in machinery,logistics and men had been made soon after the letter of award from Brar was received,he added.

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At a press conference on August 2,D-G,Shipping Satish Agnithori had said that the owner and insurer of the vessel’s hull and machinery had come forward to initiate salvage operations.

First published on: 19-08-2011 at 00:01 IST
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