Specialised diving teams of Indian Navy board INS Makar with side scan sonar to look for missing crew of Barge P305 and tug Varapradha in Mumbai on Saturday, May 22. (ANI)
Specialised diving teams of Indian Navy board INS Makar with side scan sonar to look for missing crew of Barge P305 and tug Varapradha in Mumbai on Saturday, May 22. (ANI)

Cyclone Tauktae: Navy locates sunken tugboat, sends divers in search of crew

Tugboat Varaprada sank after Cyclone Tauktae hit Mumbai coast on May 17 morning when it was returning to Mumbai harbour. That the tugboat had capsized came to light after INS Kolkata rescued two of its crew members while on the way to search and rescue operation for barge P305
By Manish K Pathak
PUBLISHED ON MAY 24, 2021 02:15 PM IST

The Indian Navy on Monday located tugboat Varaprada at the seabed about 20 nautical miles away from Mumbai, using advanced side sonar of INS Makar and also sent their special diving team in search of any trapped crew members.

“Tug Varaprada has been located during underwater search by INS Makar, which commenced early this morning,” said commander Mehul Karnik, chief public relations officer of the Western Naval Command. He added that divers were looking for trapped crew members.

Also Read | Barge P305 tragedy: Four more bodies recovered; toll touches 70

The tugboat sank after Cyclone Tauktae hit Mumbai coast on May 17 morning, when it was returning to Mumbai harbour. The fact that it had capsized came to light after INS Kolkata rescued two of its crew members while on way to join an search and rescue operation for barge Papaa305 (P305).

Barge P305 was deployed at an unmanned platform in Heera oil fields, one of the largest ONGC rigs in the Arabian sea. It was anchored about 200 meters away from the platform when Cyclone Tauktae hit the Mumbai coast. As stormy weather hit the coast, the barge got de-anchored in the night of May 16, and hit a platform while drifting in the rough sea. Water started entering from a side, as it got damaged and eventually sank around 7pm on May 17, with 261 members on-board.

The Navy succeeded in rescuing 186 crew members of P305 and has so far recovered bodies of 70 others.

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