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17 containers slip from ship in Guj waters, alert sounded

Ahmedabad, Jun 30, 2013 (PTI): 14:23 IST
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An alert has been sounded by the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) for ships approaching Gulf of Kutch, after 17 containers on board vessel MV Rajeev Gandhi slipped off Okha West and began floating in the sea, a GMB official said.

"About 17 containers slipped from MV Rajeev Gandhi, a vessel container of Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), off Okha West coast on June 27 when it was on way to Mundra port," Chief Nautical Officer (CNO), GMB, S C Mathur said.

"The containers are floating in the sea posing danger to vessel traffic movement," he said.

"All the authorities concerned like Indian Coast Guard (ICG), Director General of Shipping and SCI have been informed about the incident, and our Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) in Gulf of Kutch is issuing alerts," he said.

The ICG is keeping a constant vigil on the container movement in the sea, Mathur said.

According to GMB, 16 containers onboard Rajeev Gandhi vessel that slipped were empty, while one contains high density polyethylene (HDPE).

A tug from Jamnagar port has been deployed to keep a constant vigil over containers and push them towards coast.

"We have kept one tug Varun-1 on constant vigil for last three days and the same is moving around the location of containers to ward them off from channel and to warn passing vessels. VTMS too is conveying warnings (to ships)," Mathur said.

"Meanwhile, one of the containers has drifted and entered the deep water root off Okha port, posing a threat to vessel traffic movement," he said.

Help of available tugs with Mundra/ Reliance/ Essar can be taken to move the containers towards shallow waters for grounding, an e-mail circulated among the stakeholders stated.

The incident poses threat to vessel traffic movement as lot of crude carriers come to Gulf of Kutch, since Gujarat is touted to be the oil and gas capital of the country.

The vessel has been held up at Mundra port, a GMB official said. The SCI was approached through their agent.

"The SCI has not yet responded to our requests...," he said.

"The owners should deploy the salvagers immediately and inform us of the progress," Mathur said.

However, the SCI could not be contacted for comments on the issue.

The ICG reportedly last sighted positions of some containers on June 28 at 12.15 hours and mentioned that there was an easterly drift. The containers are likely to land up at or near Okha lighthouse and thereabout, a GMB official said.

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