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Update on Ship Collision near Mumbai Port

In the morning of 07.08.2010, container vessel MSC Chitra collided with another vessel Khailijia 3 near the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) area. As a result of this collision the hatch No.2 of MSC Chitra got damaged leading to ingress of water, as a result of which MSC Chitra started listing.

Due to the impact of collision, three containers on deck dropped into the sea and about 200 ltrs of hydraulic oil leaked out.

Immediately, through the Mumbai Port Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), two tugs were requisitioned and were rushed to render assistance. 24 crew members of MSC Chitra were evacuated by the crew of the tugs. The Master of the vessel and five crew members were brought on shore at Mumbai, while the two tugs continued to remain stand by.

Even though bow of Khailijia 3 was damaged, this vessel was safely docked at BPX berth of the MbPT. The Director General (Shipping) [DG (S)] and Coast Guard were informed of the incident and relevant notices to mariners and warnings on VHF channel were promulgated to all concerned.

The MbPT contacted the vessel agent and the insurer. The owner and the insurers P&I club, appointed M/s. Smit Salvage, Singapore for assessment and salvaging of the vessel. M/s. Smit secured the compartments and also dropped anchor, securing the vessel from drifting.

Later as the listing of the ship increased, about 250 containers have fallen into the sea.

Survey of the main channel was got carried out by Indian Navy in the early morning of 08.08.2010. The channel was found clear at that time. Limited ship movements were carried during the day. On 09.08.2010, the Navy is undertaking survey of some containers that have hit the bottom. To facilitate this, all ship movements have been stopped.

The floating containers are being cleared with the help of tugs and floating cranes. They will be stored on the JNPT side of the channel. The Mumbai Port Harbour is likely to be cleared of floating containers in next two-three days.

Once the vessel stabilizes and is certified safe to board, the salvagers will board the vessel and remove the fuel from the various tanks into the barges to eliminate threat of pollution.

The vessel has 2662 tons of heavy oil in its various tanks and 245 tons of diesel oil for its own use. Presently, there is an oil spill around the vessel. The Coast Guard and three JNPT tugs are spraying dispersants under the directions of Coast Guard. Some oil has reached ashore in Raigad District.

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board authorities have been alerted as also the agencies that draw water from Mumbai harbor. The State Disaster Management Authority is meeting today with the concerned agencies. All efforts are being taken by MbPT and JNPT in collaboration with salvagers, Coast Guard, Indian Navy and other authorities to ensure that the situation is normalized at the earliest. The situation is being closely monitored by the Ministry of Shipping.

An enquiry by the DG (Shipping) into the causes of the accident has been ordered and is underway.

The DG (S) has convened meeting of all agencies for monitoring the situation. MoS is also monitoring the situation on-line.

The CoS meeting of Cabinet Secretariat was held on 08.08.2010 and the situation was reviewed. It will meet again on the 10.08.2010.

Survey of the area carried out by the Navy this morning shows 10-12 containers in the channel. Hence shipping movement could not be resumed. Action is being taken to mark the submerged containers whereafter restricted shipping movements can be considered. Action is also being coordinated to tow the submerged as well as floating containers to the barge. Once the containers are removed from the channel, the area will be surveyed by the Chief Hydrographer and on his advice full shipping movements can be commenced.

The Coast Guard is co-ordinating action to contain the oil spill. Salvers will also be asked to assist in this work.

Fishing is not affected as there is general ban till 15th August 2010.

The Salvers will make an assessment tomorrow on the decision to ballast the vessel and turn it upright; otherwise action would have to be taken to debunker the ship by removing the oil into barges.

So far 17 vessels, 9 at JN Port and 8 at Mumbai Port have completed their operations on 8th and 9th August 2010 but could not be sailed out. 15 vessels were scheduled, 9 for JN Port and 6 for Mumbai Port, but could not be berthed.

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