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Vessel wreckage cleared from the entrance channel of Cochin port, restrictions on entry of vessels to the port removed

The restrictions imposed on entry of vessels into Cochin port have been lifted following the removal of the wreckage of the vessel blocking the entrance to the port

The wreckage of the fishing vessel, which sunk in the navigational channel of Cochin Port Trust, was removed fully on September 29, 2017 and the channel was opened for vessels up to 14.5 metre draught from September 30.

Cochin port had enforced restrictions on entry of vessels for over eleven days causing severe losses to the Port.

Immediately after the incident, the hydrographic survey team of Cochin Port Trust located the wreck and determined the safe depth in the channel. Thereafter, experts from the Indian Navy carried out bottom scanning of the area and confirmed the position of the wreckage and the location was marked with a buoy.

The fishing vessel sunk while it was being towed in to the harbour from outer sea by some fishing boats engaged by the Fisheries Department, government of Kerala. It is learnt that the towing was initiated by the department on receipt of message from the vessel which had developed leakage while at sea.

The Fisheries Department had intimated the Cochin Port authorities that they would remove the wreckage from the channel on September 19. However a day later the department intimated the Port that they are unable to carry out the salvaging for want of required equipment.

The Port authorities initiated salvaging operations on September 21, Equipments were mobilised and the operations started on full swing two days later. Foul weather was an impediment to the salvaging operations in the initial days.

Though the strong points in the sunken vessel were hooked by the crane, due to the poor condition of the vessel, which was corroded at several places, those hooked parts came off while lifting the vessel from the bottom. Ultimately, after making several attempts the hull of the vessel could be lifted and removed from the channel on September 29.

Thereafter, a survey was carried out by the hydrographic team to confirm the removal of wreckage and suitability of the channel for navigation. Normal vessel operations commenced at the Port with effect from September 30.

It may be noted that the absolute recklessness with which an unseaworthy vessel was brought into the navigational channel of the Port has caused immense loss to the Port.

Movement of such unseaworthy vessels is prohibited as per the ISPS Code and the notifications of the Directorate-General of Shipping, government of India. It is surprising that such corroded unseaworthy vessels were given licence renewals and allowed to run posing danger to everyone.

This incident points fingers to the fact that allowing such irresponsibly handled, unseaworthy condition vessels could be a cause for security hazards in future, and hence a proper registration and monitoring system has to be implemented by the registering authorities.

Though the direct loss incurred to the Port for salvaging the sunken vessel is Rs 29.5 lakh, the indirect loss due to cancellation/diversion of ships during the last 11 days is huge. In the above circumstances, the Port is constrained to approach the parties which have caused the incident to make good the huge loss incurred by the Port, said a port release.

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