Grounded tanker salvaged by Great Offshore
The tanker had run aground near Besant Nagar beach on October 31, under the impact of strong winds and swell created by cyclone Neelam. The same night the ship moved closer to the Marina beach. The six sailors died after the lifeboat they were escaping in capsized on the way to the shore. Operations to salvage the oil tanker had begun five days ago. The tanker is now cruising outside Chennai harbor awaiting instruction from Port Authorities. The salvage operation got completed after having been pulled into the sea by the high powered towing vessel.
"The salvage has been successfully completed. Most importantly, it has been completed without any oil spill from the ship," the Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan said, after inspecting the salvage operations today. The oil tanker is carrying around 300 tonnes of fuel and environmentalists were worried about any possible spill in the sea. While two tugs were available, Mr Vasan said the salvors preferred 120 ton bollard pull tug ‘Malaviya 21’ and successfully restored the ship. “Pratibha Cauvery will now be kept in the outer anchorage of the Chennai Port Trust. The tug will also stay nearby, as the anchors in the ship need to be repaired,” he added.
Earlier, the Authorities said that rescuing the ship appeared to be a challenging task. "Fortunately, the area where the ship is aground didn't have rocks. Other experts weren't that confident. They said two ships grounded on the Chennai coast in 1966 and 1995 could not be pulled out and had to be dismantled. A senior DG Shipping official said the earlier attempts failed due to miscalculations. "Though we had suggested the use of two tug boats to pull out the vessel, the salvage team (a private firm) decided to initiate the operation using one tug, Malaviya Twenty One,” he said.
Salvage expert from "Great Offshore Salvage Services", explained that this was a dynamic situation and a complex scenario. There were many contributing factors which had to be addressed by the salvage team. Tanker "Pratibha Cauvery" had run aground during the peak Spring Tide while cyclone "Neelam" was in full fury. Since then the tides had been falling and the vessel had been sinking in the soil (beach) due to her own weight plus the weight of additional ballast on board explained Capt. Sandeep Kalia, Executive Director of Great Offshore Salvage Services.
Expressing his happiness over the success of the operation, Capt Kalia informed that it was imperative to remove the ballast on board to reduce the ground reaction, which provided additional buoyancy. Hence, with the innovativeness of the salvage methodology combined with precision, the vessel has refloated. Malaviya Twenty One has most experienced team on board and enough power to pull Pratibha Cauvery out at the right time, he averred. Highest level of cooperation and teamwork was demonstrated in the combined efforts by salvors on board the tanker and on board our vessel Malaviya Twenty One.