All shipping activity at the Port of Mumbai has ceased subsequent to the collision between two cargo vessels in the approach channel of Mumbai harbor that took place on 7 August 2010. The Director General of Shipping (DGS), the country’s maritime administration has banned any vessel coming in to berth in Mumbai port till the channel is cleared up of all obstruction. Meanwhile oil from two containers and one of the vessel has said to have spilled into the sea causing extensive damage.
A missive issued by V R Joglekar, Chief PRO Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) stated, “Two cargo ships collided off Mumbai harbor at 9.40am on Saturday, 7 August, 2010 with one running aground on impact and tilting to one side sending two containers of oil, around 200 litres, crashing into the sea, leading to an oil spill. The container vessel MSC Chitra was proceeding to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) harbor for docking and the other vessel, Khalija-3 was approaching the port when the crash took place. Though Khalija-3 tried contacting M S C Chitra on all VHF channels to request a change of direction, there was no response. There was some damage to the port side number 2 hatch of MSC Chitra. With the exception of 10 key personnel who continue to be on board, the remaining crew of M S C Chitra has been evacuated. Khalija-3 has its bow damaged and was docked safely at the BPS berth of Mumbai Port Trust.”
Ms. S. G. Tahiliani, Manager (SO&M) of MbPT stated, “About 10 to 15 boxes from the container vessel MSC Chitra have fallen into the sea in the approach channel. Besides, the vessel has run aground. The survey of the approach channel where the accident took place is being carried out to ascertain the extent of the damage and the obstruction to the approach channel. We hope to get a complete picture by tonight (9 August) about the time required to clear the obstruction and re-float the vessel. The salvage operation will commence immediately thereafter. After studying the survey report it may be possible to allow smaller vessels to berth. We hope to clear the channel in about two to three days after which ships could be allowed to berth.
“However, there is an oil spill in the area and the Coast Guard has sent a helicopter and ship for the necessary pollution control. MSC Chitra has suffered major damage and it is carrying around 2,000 tonnes of fuel,” said a Coast Guard officer. The authorities were unable to assess the extent of the oil spill and damage to marine life. “Mitigation measures to control the oil spill are currently on. Oil needs to be pumped out of the merchant vessel into another barge, but choppy sea conditions are creating a bit of a problem,” added the Coast Guard official. The oil spill which has reached Uran and Ali Baug about 40 km off Mumbai could seriously affect marine life and fish in the region.
MSC Chitra was heading towards Mundra port in Gujarat and was loaded with dry cargo containers while Khalijia had 30,000 tonnes of steel coils. Both vessels are Panamanian flagged. A total of 33 crew members, including two Pakistanis, were rescued following the incident. No casualties have been reported.