Oil Tanker Runs Aground due to Cyclone

MT Pratibha Cauvery, an oil tanker with a 37-member crew on board ran aground off Chenai coast as a result of strong winds and heavy weather due to cyclone Nilam. Operations were launched by local authorities to rescue some crew members because the life boat carrying them capsized. One sailor died and three others are said to be in a serious condition.The local authorities are searching for the remaining 5 crew members.

The tanker was asked yesterday to go to the Outer Anchorage of the port as a precautionary measure before the cyclone’s arrival, they said. However, the ship, anchored about 3.56 nautical miles away from the Port yesterday, drifted and touched the shore near Elliots Beach.

The 26,000 tonne capacity tanker had two tonnes of light diesel and furnace oil onboard when the accident occured.

Update 1: Nov. 05 2012

Questions are being raised over the role of MT Pratibha Cauvery captain after the bodies of remaining two sailors of the ship were found last Saturday, their bodies have been found at different places off the coast of Chennai.

Sources said that MT Pratibha Cauvery was not sea-worthy since October 2 and had been berthed at the Chennai Port for over a month. The captain of the grounded vessel is blamed for defying instructions to move to safe waters despite the threat of the cyclone intensified.

Update 2: Nov. 08 2012

In an action to prevent pollution off the Marina, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) has asked the Coast Guard to move the stranded vessel MT Pratibha Cauvery mid-sea within three days.

TNPCB has also recommended that the furnace oil and diesel be pumped out to the extent possible, so that the tugs will be able to tow the vessel easily.

A tug from Kakinada has already arrived and another one is on its way from Cochin, to salvage the grounded ship — Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

Update 3: Nov. 13 2012

MT Pratibha Cauvery, was finally pulled out to sea during last Sunday. The owner of the vessel stated that divers would take photographs to assess damage to the keel and propellers.

Update 4: Nov. 26 2012

The new crew members manning MT Pratibha Cauvery, want to be relieved from the vessel immediately. According to the crew members and the Master of the vessel, MT  Pratibha Cauvery is unsafe and lack of provisions on board, the ship’s captain has forwarded a letter to the director-general of shipping and other authorities for necessary action.

According to the vessel’s captain

  • there is no sufficient fuel on board and
  • essential machineries are not operational
  • no life saving equipment, including life jackets, life boat and life raft are available on board,
  • no communications equipment are operational
  • limited food provisions remains on board
  • owner of the ship was not responding to their need
  • the number of crew members on board is not enough for manning the vessel and there are no chief engineers deployed

To make things worse, the local police personnel deployed at the berth area are treating the vessel’s crew like criminals not allowing any visitors to step into the jetty.

Source: The Economic Times, CanIndia, The Hindu. The Times of India

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