Great escape for the two collided ships and crew near TN port: Probe Officer

Chennai, Jan 30 (IANS) It was great lucky escape for the two petroleum products carriers that collided against each other owing to grave human error and lack of communication on the part of their crews, said an inquiry officer.

“It is certainly a great escape there was no explosion despite the collision. The inquiry is still in the process,” Subash Kumar, Advisor, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and formerly the Deputy Chairman, Chennai Port Trust told IANS on Monday.

The collision between liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessel MT BW Maple and oil tanker MT Dawn Kanchipuram happened on Saturday early morning at 4 a.m. off Kamarajar Port in Tamil Nadu.

“Normally ships – incoming and outgoing – would interact with each other when they are entering or exiting a port channel. But here, there was no interaction between the two ships,” Kumar said.

According to him, the pilot had deboarded the LPG tanker that was exiting the port while another pilot had boarded the incoming oil tanker.

The LPG tanker was taking a left turn clearing the buoys on its way out while the oil tanker was coming into the port from the right side taking a left turn.

“By the time the officials of both the ships started talking, the two ships were very close. Further the actions taken by them to avoid a collision were all wrong,” Kumar said.

As to the damage suffered by the ships, Kumar said the LPG tanker did not suffer minor damage while major damage was suffered by the oil tanker.

Kumar said the oil tanker suffered a big hole measuring around 7-8 metres diameter below the water and 3-4 metre diameter triangular hole at the top.

“The hole suffered by the oil tanker under water was in the void part of the ship and the cargo tank was not ruptured due the collision. Though there is water ingress there is no threat to the ship’s stability,” he added.

The LPG tanker’s bulbous bow, the strongest part of a ship, ploughed into the oil tanker’s side. As the LPG tanker had unloaded major portion of its cargo, it was relatively light and the bulbous bow was on a higher level.

Queried about the oil spillage, Kumar said it is from the oil tanker’s pipelines and now there is no oil leak into the sea.

The oil tanker – MT Dawn Kanchipuram – is being brought into the port for unloading of its cargo.

Meanwhile, the oil spill that happened outside the port has spread along the coast resulting in the death of some turtles and fish.

Turtles coated with thick bunker oil were washed ashore dead. Similarly, several fish also dead.