A month after Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) 25-year-old supply vessel Samudrika 10 sank off the Mumbai coast, Director-General (Shipping) Kiran Dhingra has ordered inspection of all vessels over 15 years old. Preliminary reports claimed that the vessel sank because of poor maintenance.
Dhingra’s order states: "Due to the recent increase in the number of marine casualties involving Indian vessels on the Indian coast, a Flag State Inspection of all offshore vessels more than 15 years old must be submitted to the Directorate within 60 days."
The instruction was sent out to maritime departments in Kolkata, Chennai, Paradip, Mumbai, Goa, Kandla, Jamnagar, Cochin, Vishakapatnam, Tutucorin and Noida among others.
"This is a good move by the director-general to check the condition of vessels,” said a senior official from the Mercantile Marine Department, on condition of anonymity.
"Initially, we wanted to recall all vessels for inspection, but that would affect operations so surveyors will board the vessel when possible," said a senior marine official. The surveyor will inspect papers, manning, certification and run a safety check on all equipment.
The recent spate of shipwrecks has become a cause of concern for the maritime department with 24 people losing their lives at sea.
On July 29, HT carried a detailed report “Rusting hulls imperil India’s western coast” on how the 29 shipwrecks scattered across the western coast could pose a serious environmental hazard. This year alone, 12 ships sank or were grounded and the fuel still in the wrecks.
Dhingra’s order will affect oil companies such as ONGC, Reliance, British Gas and Essar, which mainly operate their offshore vessels to carry supplies to oilrigs in Bombay High, Bay of Bengal and the Godavari Basin.