Administration to position two emergency towing vessels on coast
Groundings and collisions on the Indian coasts cause Indian Administration to deploy emergency towing vessels, one each on the East and West coast
As a precautionary measure the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) not wanting to take chances has decided to deploy emergency towing vessels (ETV) one on each coast of India to attend to any distress calls from stranded or beleaguered vessels which has become a common feature during the monsoons. This move comes as a result of several accidents that left the administration wishing they could have immediately towed the distressed vessel and saved the situation going from bad to worse.
Capt Deepak Kapoor, Deputy Nautical Advisor to the Government of India and Deputy General of Shipping informed that the directorate was in the process of inviting tenders for the two vessel of 60 tons bollard pull. This will be done on getting the sanction of the Ministry of Shipping and which is expected shortly.
The collision between MSC Chitra with Khalijia III on August of 2010 had led to the disruption of shipping traffic on the West coast with the result and no ship could enter in and move out of the ports of Mumbai and JNPT for more than a week. Later, the M. V. Wisdom which was heading to the recycling yard at Alang lost her tow about 10 nautical miles off Mumbai on 11 June 2011. It subsequently got grounded at the Juhu Chowpati beach, a popular tourist attraction spot. It took 20 days for SMIT Salvage International to tug away the vessel after three earlier attempts to salvage the ship during high tide had failed, sparking environmental concerns at Juhu beach. It was these two major incidents that prompted the DGS to have a tow positioned on the West coast. Accordingly, the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India had a vessel deployed to serve as an Emergency Towing vessel (ETV) ready to respond at short notice to deal with any exigencies.
The ETV deployed for the first time was owned by SMIT Salvage International and chartered by the state owned, Shipping Corporation of India on behalf of of the government. It was equipped with adequate salvage equipment having 80 tons bollard pull and manned by qualified and experienced personnel. This same vessel, SMIT LUMBA flag Singapore was used for pulling the stranded ship M.V. Wisdom.
The former Nautical Advisor to the government of India, Capt M. M. Saggi commented that just two ETVs are not sufficient. What then is the answer? There has been a suggestion of taking on some of the Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) vessels operating in the offshore and these could be deployed also for any emergency arising out of any accidents occurring. Only then could there be a proper response. But the question arises who will pay for deploying so many vessels? Till then it is hoped that at least the two vessels could make a lot of difference.