MSC believes a bulker which collided with one of its boxships off Mumbai causing an oil spill was “significantly in error” in its navigation.
The Swiss owner of the 2,314-teu MSC Chitra (built 1980) said a preliminary review of its black box recorder suggested the ship was not to blame for the smash with the 41,800-dwt Khalijia 3 (built 1983) on Saturday.
MSC was also quick to point out that the bulker had been involved in a grounding off India in mid July but stopped short of connecting the two incidents in a written statement released late on Tuesday.
The two ships collided outside Mumbai port leaving the boxship with a large hull breach and causing it to list and spill heavy fuel oil. It cotinues to list at around 40 degrees to port and has lost around 200 containers. The bulker suffered bow damage but managed to make it safely to port.
Geneva-based MSC has previously steadfastly refused to comment to TradeWinds on the incident but broke its silence with a lengthy statement posted on its website.
“While the precise circumstances of the collision will be determined by an inquiry by the Mumbai authorities, we have performed a preliminary review of the vessel’s black box recorder.
“From the recording it is clear that the MSC Chitra was properly proceeding outbound within the main navigation channel when the Khalijia 3, with salvors’ escort tugs in attendance, left what we believe was the Khalijia 3’s anchorage position, and crossed the fairway ahead of the MSC Chitra heading generally southbound and turning to port.
“For reasons not known to us the Khalijia 3 unexpectedly continued turning to port, and came back to cross the fairway again, now heading in a generally northbound direction, and struck the MSC Chitra on the MSC Chitra’s port side while the MSC Chitra was still properly navigating in the main channel.
“Therefore, it would appear that under the rules of navigation the Khalijia 3 was significantly in error. We of course await the results of the full inquiry in due course.”
MSC had begun Tuesday’s statement by giving a brief summary of the incident but quickly added: “We understand that the Khalijia 3 had recently been salvaged from [a] three-week long grounding and was proceeding into port to discharge her cargo, still under the control of professional salvors.”
The liner giant was referring to an incident off Mumbai on 19 July which saw the ship ground and develop a crack in its hull. Its 28 crew members had to be rescued but no pollution or injuries were reported.
MSC continued in Tuesday’s statement that its priority at the moment is the recovery of containers lost from the boxship and also stabilisation of the vessel. A spokesperson from the ship’s Hong Kong-based manager told TradeWinds on Tuesday that around 200 boxes have been lost overboard while the ship appeared to be stable and the oil leak halted. MSC qualified this somewhat in its statement by saying “the vessel appears to be stable and the pollution has reduced to a very low level and perhaps stopped altogether”.
The owner continued: “MSC, the salvors, and our vessel’s managers have met with the authorities and have formulated plans of action with regard to each aspect of the casualty, which are being put into effect immediately.
“There are currently spring tides in Mumbai and the situation will be watched carefully as tidal heights fall.”
No crew members from either ship were injured in the collision. However, a Mumbai police official drowned after falling from a speed boat while patrolling the area around the collision site.