Monitor didn’t warn ships | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Monitor didn’t warn ships

As cargo ships MSC Chitra and MV Khalijia-III hurtled towards a collision, the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), a marine traffic monitoring system set up by the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) in 1997, failed to alert the ships, say some MbPT officials.

mumbai Updated: Aug 14, 2010 02:18 IST
Bhavika Jain

As cargo ships MSC Chitra and MV Khalijia-III hurtled towards a collision, the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), a marine traffic monitoring system set up by the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) in 1997, failed to alert the ships, say some MbPT officials.

The Directorate General of Shipping is probing the matter.

“There was no communication from the VTMS in the last two minutes before the collision took place, as our recordings prove. Only the masters of both the vessels were communicating with each other,” said Captain N. Malhotra, representing MSC Chitra.

The two vessels collided off the city’s coast last Saturday, halting operations at the two ports for five days and causing an oil spill that officials are struggling to mop up.

MbPT sources said when MV Khalijia-III, which was leaving the main navigation channel, took a sudden turn and re-entered the channel, the VTMS should have warned the captains of both ships. “The VTMS failed to alert the captains when one of the ships strayed from its route,” an MbPT official said, requesting anonymity.

All communication has been recorded by the Simplified Voyage Data Recorder (S-VDR), which is present in such vessels. The S-VDR is similar to an aircraft’s black box and records a ship’s movements as well as that of other traffic in the vicinity and also conversations between the VTMS manager and the ship’s navigation team.

There’s another possibility. The MbPT and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust share a common VTMS as they have the same shipping channel. A VTMS source said: “The VTMS sent a warning to MSC Chitra. When it left JNPT, its navigation system was on JNPT’s VHF channel 13. It is supposed to switch to VHF channel 12 on which VTMS communicates. Either they did not change the channel and so did not get the alert, or didn’t act as per instructions.”
The S-VDR recordings have been handed over to the DGS.