INDIA | Mumbai ship collision: reports find port, bulker captain at fault

Hindustan Times | 2010.10.10

One investigation into the collision between the vessels MSC Chitra and MV Khalijia-III off the Mumbai coast in August has indicted the crew of the second ship and another has found fault with the Mumbai Port Trust.

A report prepared by the police detected 37 instances of lapses on the part of the MV Khalijia-III crew.

MV Khalijia had entered the navigation channel at the wrong time and at the wrong angle, the report says. Instead of entering it at an angle parallel to the port, it did so at a perpendicular angle.

This was because the vessel had a damaged anchor and entered the channel without the two tugs that would have help stabilise it, police officers said.

“The captain of MV Khalijia made plenty of blunders,” said a senior officer at the Yellowgate police station, where the case has been filed. “When he realised that the ship was going perpendicular, he told the captain of MSC Chitra to go starboard, but Chitra was going too fast to turn.”

When asked whether the captain of MV Khalijia would be arrested, Quaiser Khalid, deputy commissioner of police (port zone) said, “We have not decided yet.”

The report of the Directorate General of Shipping says that one of the radars of the Mumbai Port Trust’s Vessel Traffic Management System did not function properly. As a result, its staff did not know that the ships were approaching the coast or that MV Khalijia was moving dangerously close to MSC Chitra.

“The system failed to alert the captains when one of the ships strayed from its route,” said a senior official from the Directorate General of Shipping, who declined to be identified. HT called Rahul Asthana, the chairman of the Mumbai Port Trust, thrice, but he did pick up the calls.

The collision led to a massive oil spill, which authorities are still struggling to clean. Eight hundred tonnes of oil leaked from the Chitra and its cargo fell in to the sea, blocking the main navigation channel.



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