Indian Coast Guard ships, including a pollution control vessel, are on stand-by in the vicinity and the situation is being closely monitored.
Two foreign cargo ships collided in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat Friday night, official sources said. No casualties were reported in the accident that happened between the coast of Okha in Devbhumi Dwarka and Mandvi in Kutch.
The accident occurred between MV Atlantic Grace — a 50,000-DWT oil/chemical tanker sailing under the flag of Hong Kong — and a 19,000-DWT bulk carrier MV Aviator sailing under the flag of Marshall Islands. While MV Atlantic Grace was
headed to Fujairah (the UAE) from Kandla, MV Aviator was headed to Kandla port.
“Until now, there has been no report of any casualties in the accident. No oil slick has been reported so far. But the tanker has breached the hull of the bulk carrier. Luckily, this breach is above the water level,” said a government official monitoring the situation. Indian Coast Guard ships, including a pollution control vessel, are on stand-by in the vicinity and the situation is being closely monitored.
“We will need tugs to conduct the salvage operations. This is a delicate operation conducted mid-sea where we have to ensure there is no further damage to the hull or the vessel does not tilt,” the official added. Tugs and a team of salvage experts reached the site Saturday.
The Gulf of Kutch is one of the most important shipping routes for India as a large portion of the imported crude arrives at the ports of Kandla and Mundra. An accident in these shipping lanes could also cause irreversible damage to the unique Marine National Park in Jamnagar. “This is a very important shipping lane as over 35 percent of the crude oil imported into India comes through the Gulf of Kutch,” the official added.
When asked how the two cargo vessels travelling in the opposite directions collided, despite the presence of the state of art Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) system in the Gulf of Kutch, the official said, “It is too early to comment, but it seems to be a human error at this point in time.”
Under the VTS system, multiple radars and port-monitoring stations, including those belonging to the Indian Coast Guard, are integrated and keep a close watch on all movements happening in the Gulf of Kutch.
Source: Indian Express