Tag Archives: Mumbai

MARITIME NEWS | India: 113,000 tons of oil spilled along the coastline in 29 years

The Indian Coast Guard, designated as the first response agency to combat oil spills in our territorial waters, has released some startling statistics. Over 60,000 tonnes of crude oil has been spilt into the Arabian Sea in the last 29 years, sparking concern over the irreversible damage to marine life.

The spill in the Arabian Sea caused by 23 ship accidents since 1982, amounts to over half the total oil spilt along the entire Indian coastline. Close to 113,000 tonnes of oil has been spilled along the country’s coastline due to 74 ship accidents in the same time frame.

“Things have been particularly bad in the last two years. The oil spill from MV Rak earlier this month, was the second successive blow for the Mumbai coast in the monsoon, which is breeding season for a majority of the marine species. Last August, MV Chitra spilt over 800 tonnes of oil into the Arabian Sea. There is a limit to which ecological balance can be maintained. Once damaged, it may take years to recuperate,” said Deepak Apte, deputy director of BNHS’s conservation department.

Maritime expert Joseph Fonseca, who procured these figures from the Coast Guard (Sunday Mid Day has a copy), said the number of vessels docking into the two city ports is on the rise. A dearth of experienced seafarers implied that accidents are bound to escalate. “Marine officers attain the rank of Captain in barely six to eight years, while in the past, they could only command a ship after 12 to 15 years. A lack of experience could be one of the causes for an increase in these accidents,” said Fonseca.

Captain Dinesh Jairam, a senior maritime professional, who has been in the industry for 30 years, agreed. According to him, qualified seafarers were opting for shore jobs, which has led to a dearth of experienced seafarers on the ship.

“Over 70 per cent of accidents at sea are due to human error. In spite of all the technological advancements in the navigation sector, at the end of the day, all machines are operated by humans, who must have the right expertise,” he said.

President Indian National Ship-owners Association for Mumbai Sabyasacchi Hajara said one reason for senior mariners taking shore jobs could be that India is a growing economy. “Though life at sea is more comfortable compared than it was, if seafarers find lucrative shore jobs that do not involve long time spans away from family, it is natural that they would opt for those.”

According to Chairman of the Maritime Association of Shipowners Shipmanagers and Agents (MASSA) Captain Shyam Jairam, the only remedy is adequate training and mentoring to curb human error.

Disaster timeline
MV Rak sank in the Arabian Sea on August 4, 2011. Had 60,000 tonnes of coal and at least 300 tonnes of fuel oil. Two tonnes of oil has been leaking into the sea every hour since August 6. There are reports that another vessel is presently drifting towards Mumbai.

MV Pavit abandoned off the Oman coast on June 29, 2011 drifted to Mumbai and was grounded at Juhu Versova beach on July 31.

MV Wisdom owned by a Singapore company lost her tow 10 nautical miles off Mumbai on June 11, 2011. It was grounded at Juhu beach. Though oil slick was observed on the beach, there are no confirmed reports on how much was spilt.

January 30, 2011 naval vessel INS Vindhagiri suffered damage after a Cyprus flag merchant ship MV Nordlake collided with it at the entrance of Mumbai harbour.

Source: http://www.mid-day.com/news/2011/aug/210811-Mumbai-coast-Ship-Drowning-Oil-spill.htm

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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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SAFETY | Indian Navy to stop escorting ships in Mumbai harbour from Monday

MUMBAI —  The Indian Navy will stop providing escort to ships coming in and out of the Mumbai harbour from Monday necessitated in the wake of collision of two foreign cargo ships off the port Aug 7, an official said.

A decision to this effect was taken after a high-level review meeting chaired by shipping secretary K Mohandas with the officials of the Indian Navy, the Coast Guard, and representatives of other maritime organisations.

Panamanian cargo carrier, MSC Chitra collided with the St Kitts-vessel MV Khalijia-III near the Mumbai harbour spilling oil and chemicals from its containers.

Sunday will be the final day when naval escort would be provided to large ships and bulk carriers, the Directorate-General of Shipping (DGS) said.

From Monday, the salvers of the Panamanian vessel, MSC Chitra shall survey the shipping channel and also provide escorts, it said.

The salvers are also making efforts to ensure that the September 1 deadline for the start of the passenger ferry services from Mumbai to the mainland and back is adhered to.

Meanwhile, the navy escorted five large vessels out of and five into Mumbai Port Trust and another 10 out and nine into the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust on Saturday.

In the past 12 days, the navy has escorted 126 large vessels out and piloted in 132 vessels for both the ports. However, medium-sized vessels with draft of up to 7 metres, and other smaller vessels continue to sail the channel without escort.

Source: The Times of India

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MARITIME | Lessons from Mumbai ship collision

The collision should be an eye-opener for Mumbai port authorities.

N. K. Kurup | The Hindustan Business Line

What could have caused the collision between two ships in broad daylight in Mumbai harbour that led to the oil spill along the coastline and suspension of vessel traffic to Mumbai and JN ports last week? Human error, negligence on the part of the captain and failure of communication facilities are being discussed as part of the speculation doing the rounds.

As the Director-General of Shipping is investigating the cause of the mishap, it may not be appropriate to comment on it. However, a look at the ship traffic management system at Mumbai port and the circumstances in which the collision took place may help understand the outcome of the investigations better.

How it happened

According to reports, the collision took place around 10 a.m on August 7 in the common channel for both Mumbai and JN Port. The container ship MSC Chitra, which was coming out of JN port, was hit by the break-bulk carrier MV Khalijia III, as it was proceeding to berth at Mumbai port. Following the collision MSC Chitra tilted and over 300 loaded containers fell from the ship into the water, blocking vessel traffic though the main channel.

The ship slowly moved and was grounded outside the channel. The other vessel, its bows severely damaged, was safely berthed at Mumbai port. Salvage experts were immediately summoned and many of the containers have been retrieved. Traffic has partially resumed from Friday, with the help of the Navy.

Common channel

Ships coming to Mumbai and JN Port terminals use a common main navigation channel, before entering the respective port’s approach channels. The movement of ships at Mumbai and JN ports is controlled by a Vessel Traffic Management System equipped with high frequency electronic communication facilities.

The VTMS, similar to the air traffic control system for aircraft, uses radar and high frequency radio telephony to keep track of ships. Each port has a different VHF channel. JNPT operates on VHF-13 and Mumbai Port VHF-12.

According to senior official at JN Port, a ship coming into Mumbai port from JN port can, depending on the facility on board, keep both the communication channels on. If that is not possible, it has to switch over from VHF-13 to 12 when it enters the Mumbai port.

Pilotage is compulsory for all large ships calling at Mumbai port. At the time of the collision, however, both the ships in question were commanded by their own captains.

According to Mr Rahul Astana, Chairman, Mumbai port, this was because both ships were away from the pilot’s station. The JNPT pilot disembarked the container ship before it entered the main channel while the Mumbai port pilot was yet to board the other ship.

A collision in such a situation raises several questions. Was there a communication failure? Did the captain fail to switch to the right channel? Did he fail to act on the warning? The enquiry report will hold the answers to these questions.

The owners of the container ship MSC Chitra allege that MV Khalijia III flouted the navigation rules that led to the collision. According to the vessel’s voyage data recorder, they claim their ship was proceeding well within its way though the main channel when the other ship re-entered the channel after crossing it and turned to the port side, flouting navigation rules.

As it happened, within two minutes, it was hit by the other ship’s bow. The Khalijia has yet to come out with any statement. However, there are also reports that the voyage recorder shows alert messages sent by the captain of the Khalijia-III to MSC Chitra’s captain. Fortunately, there was no loss of human life but the oil spill caused by the mishap could endanger marine life along the coast line. Apart from retrieving the fallen containers, there is a huge cost involved in the clean-up of the oil slick.

Mr S. Venkiteswaran, senior maritime lawyer, says the owners of both ships will have to bear the costs, based on the percentage of their responsibility in the incident. It could be 50:50 or 75:25, or any other ratio. That can be fixed only after the investigations are over and based on its findings.

Lack of preparedness

According to Mr S. Hajara, Chairman SCI, one of the largest port users in the country, accidents do take place at ports. Quick response is the key in an emergency situation. Capt S. Shahi, Chairman, Shahi Shipping, a leading coastal shipping operator, said the incident should be an eye-opener for Mumbai port.

Its technical team needs regular training in handling ship traffic. Mr S.B. Agnihotri, Director-General of Shipping, who is co-ordinating the salvage operations, said: “We did our best. This is evident from the fact that the ports could resume traffic within five days. However, night navigation may take some more days to begin.”

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MARITIME | Putting MSC’s boot in

Shipowners are traditionally reticent to comment on casualties, which is why MSC’s reaction to the Chitra collision has raised eyebrows

MUCH to the frustration of generations of maritime journalists, shipowners are traditionally reticent to comment on casualties, at least until the accident investigation report is in.

So we confess to slight surprise at Mediterranean Shipping Co’s decision to come out fighting after the collision between boxship MSC Chitra and a bulk carrier, which closed down Jawaharlal Nehru and Mumbai for the best part of a week.

Within days, MSC issued a statement putting the blame on the other guys, on the basis of what it says is the black box data. Whether that assertion is fair or not will be revealed in due course.

Strangely enough, the Geneva-based outfit is regarded as one of the more publicity shy concerns among the shipping world’s big boys. However, the reasons for the move are quite understandable.

We live in a 24/7 rolling news culture, and the enforced shutdown of emerging India’s most important container facility is a big story. Media attention will have been constant.

There is also the issue of who will foot the clean-up costs, a headache highlighted by the Deepwater Horizon events.

There have been suggestions that India’s government was initially inclined to blame MSC for the bunker spill, which would be quite unjust if MSC Chitra was blameless for what happened to it.

Most of us remember the stigma that attached to snitches in our school days. But as the famous rugby saying goes, sometimes it really is best to get your retaliation in first.


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MARITIME | Indian main port conditions remain restricted

Jawaharlal Nehru Port and Mumbai set to handle between six and 12 vessels as they struggle with knock on effects MSC Chitra casualty

INDIA’s main container port complex has resumed extremely restricted operations, after a three-day shutdown caused by a collision between a boxship and a bulker on Saturday.

Although reports from the country vary, it seems that Jawaharlal Nehru Port and adjoining Mumbai were set to handle between six and 12 vessels in the course of Thursday, as they struggle to get to grips with the knock on effects of the casualty.

The job of recovering all of the 250-300 boxes that spilled from MSC Chitra is still ongoing, with a government minister on record as stating that the the task could take until Saturday. The Singapore wing of Smit International is among those engaged in the effort.

However, the navigational channel has been cleared, allowing some ships to enter and leave under Indian navy escort. A defence spokesman told the Press Trust of India: “The Indian Navy commenced escorting a convoy of merchant ships to and out of Mumbai port from 1000 hrs. Seven ships have been escorted out of the harbour while five are being escorted into the harbour.”

Merchant shipping was given aerial assistance in navigation by a helicopter while a minesweeper with two survey boats equipped with sonar scanners ensured that the channel was clear for the convoy.

Around 30 of the boxes are thought to hold hazardous chemicals but analysis of water samples show no signs of contamination so far.

A spill of bunker fuel is causing another headache. Around 32 ships were as of yesterday awaiting the opportunity to leave the two ports.

The development comes after Mediterranean Shipping Co, owner of 1980-built, 2,134 dwt MSC Chitra, issued a statement earlier this week essentially exonerating its own vessel and loading the blame on 1985-built, 45,798 dwt Khalijia 3. Black box data shows that Khalijia 3 was “significantly in error”, MSC says.

Nobody at the company widely identified as the operator of the latter ship was available to discuss the claim or to put its side of the story after Lloyd’s List made telephone and email contact yesterday.

Maharashtra state government said that rough seas had acted to prevent work on stabilising MSC Chitra and pumping out its bunkers from commencing. Nobody at MSC was available to give an update on the situation facing the ship.

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MARITIME | Collision off Mumbai: ‘Khalijia in error’, says MSC

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.

(All pictures from All Marine Spares Inc.)

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”.

MSC Chitra (all pictures from All Marine Spares Inc).

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.


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