Abandoned vessel sinks near Mangaluru port

Abandoned Vessel/Dredger Tridevi Prem belonging to Mercator Limited, Mumbai, sank about two nautical mile away from shore off New Mangalore Port 

Dredger Tridevi Prem, with 13 crew onboard, belonging to Mercator Limited, a Mumbai-based company, sank about two nautical miles away from shore off New Mangalore Port on Tuesday. 

It was anchored within port limits of New Mangalore Port Trust, on a contractual agreement with NMPT for dredging to ensure sufficient depth in the channel.

When DH contacted NMPT Chairman A V Ramana, he said that crew members of the dredger had reported on the flooding inside the pump room on the evening of September 1. When a repair team comprising seven persons including divers arranged by the owner on pursuance of the Coast Guard and NMPT reached the dredger, the crew members did not allow them to take up repair work and switched off the lights. Later, they abandoned the dredger in a lifeboat at around 2.30 am on September 2, leaving behind the repair team of seven members.

ICGS Amartya of Coast Guard rescued all the 13 crew of lifeboat in a rescue operation braving rough weather conditions and heavy rain. The remaining seven members of the repair team were later rescued by NMPT Tug in coordination with ICGS Amartya, said the Chairman.

As the dredger was abandoned, the port immediately initiated action to deploy the pollution response equipment along with the barge ready to transfer fuel from the dredger. However, the pollution response equipment mobilized by NMPT and the bunker barge to transfer the fuel were unable to carry out the operation due to inclement weather. There is 45 KL low sulfur high diesel in the bunker of the dredger, which will not create any threat to marine life. The dredger does not have any black oil, said the NMPT Chairman.

He ruled out damage to the environment as the fuel in the dredger evaporates in the atmosphere in case of an oil spill.

The NMPT personnel and Coast Guard personnel are monitoring the area where the dredger sank. Measures have been taken to contain oil spilling. The NMPT has already brought the issue of abandoning the dredger by the crew to the notice of the DG (shipping), following which he has served notice to Mercator Limited. The NMPT has placed two layers of booms to prevent the spread of oil. The sinking of the dredger will not affect the navigation of vessels, he said.

Further, the NMPT has filed a complaint for abandoning the dredger with Coastal Security Police. The crew members are not allowed to abandon the vessel as per Merchant Shipping Act. Further, crew members did not cooperate with the repair team and left them in dredger while abandoning it. As a precautionary measure, the NMPT is running a special control room manned by port personnel round the clock. Even MRPL and Cochin Port too has been alerted.

The Chairman said that a stakeholders meeting comprising coastal police, representatives of DG Shipping, oil companies, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to deliberate on what can be done in future.

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