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Merchant ship changed route too late

The registered merchant vessel MV Nord Lake altered its course drastically at such a late stage that it did not give any reaction time to INS Vindhyagiri, which resulted in the collision, states the First Information Report (FIR).

mumbai Updated: Feb 03, 2011 01:53 IST
Presley Thomas

The registered merchant vessel MV Nord Lake altered its course drastically at such a late stage that it did not give any reaction time to INS Vindhyagiri, which resulted in the collision, states the First Information Report (FIR).

The merchant vessel was about 500 metres from Vindhyagiri, when it realised that it did not have sufficient room to pass by the inbound merchant vessel MV Sea Eagle and altered its course by more than 60 degrees.

The collision happened around 4.45 pm near Sunk Rock Light House off the Mumbai coast on Sunday evening. It resulted in severe structural damage to Vindhyagiri and caused heavy flooding and a major fire.

INS Vindhyagiri had to then be towed and berthed.

On Monday afternoon, INS Vindhyagiri touched bottom, and is currently tilting to the port, because of a 5 feet x 2 ½ feet fissure that it sustained in the collision with the merchant vessel.

Vindhyagiri was entering the harbour after a sortie for the family’s day out at sea event around 4 pm, and so was MV Sea Eagle a merchant vessel that was scheduled to head towards the Mumbai port.

Also at the scene was another naval ship INS Godavari that was travelling ahead of Vindhyagiri. Both merchant vessels took permission from INS Godavari to pass from its left hand side, the FIR states.

But, when they were about 500 metres from each other,

the pilot of MV Nord Lake realised that it did not have sufficient room to pass by MV Sea Eagle.

Nord Lake’s pilot then spoke to the pilot of MV Sea Eagle and altered its course by more than 60 degrees, Navy authorities have reported.

Vindhyagiri, which was returning to the Naval Dockyard, had little reaction time to change its course. “When INS Vindhyagiri heard and saw MV Nord Lake alter its course by more than 60 degrees, the captain of the ship ordered a full ahead (to attain the maximum speed possible) and tried to avoid the collision,” the FIR states.

This is the second major incident within a period of five months, where confusion in communication between two ships resulted in a major accident.

In August 2010, MV Chitra and MV Khalijia, in a similar instance of miscommunication, rammed into each other causing a major oil spill along the Mumbai harbour.


Captain of MV Nord Lake says Navy vessel to blame

Surabhi Vaya
surabhi.vaya@hindustantimes.com
Mumbai: The captain of MV Nord Lake, the merchant vessel that collided with INS Vindhyagiri on Sunday evening, has denied any role in the mishap.

Petros Valneo, the captain, was brought to Yellow Gate police station late Tuesday where his statement was recorded for over two hours. “Valneo constantly denied any responsibility.

He said Naval authorities’ miscalculations led to the collision,” said Quaiser Khalid, deputy commissioner of police (Port Zone).

According to the police, they are also investigating whether Valneo has been involved in any other such accidents in the past. “As he is Slovakian, it is hard for us to trace his records, but we have started collecting details,” Khalid said.

According to the police, Valneo’s statements will be compared to the data and physical evidence that is also being collected.

This evidence includes communication logs of Nord Lake and the navigation data.

“Any arrests will be made only after these aspects of the investigation are completed,” Khalid said.

The police are also analysing the video footage recorded by several people aboard INS Vindhyagiri.

“We are looking for correlations between the footage, the communication logs and the statements of the witnesses along with that of Valneo’s,” Khalid said.

The police confirmed that the matter was also being probed by director general of shipping (DG) alongside the board of inquiry constituted by the Navy as well as the Mumbai Police.

INS Vindhyagiri — a frontline Naval frigate of the Indian Navy — had collided with a merchant vessel MV Nord Lake around 4.45 pm near Sunk Rock Light House on Sunday evening.

After a 24-hour rescue operation, the ship sank on Monday.

The police said the JNPT pilot who was onboard the merchant vessel would be made the key witness in the case.

The FIR was lodged at Yellow Gate police station against Nord Lake on January 31, under Sections 280 (rash navigation of vessel), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 427 (mischief causing damage to
others).