Mangaluru, Sept 2, 2019: The Indian Coast Guard and the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), in a joint operation in the wee hours of Monday, rescued 13 crew members on board dredger Tridevi Prem after it reported flooding.
Owned by Mumbai-based Mercator Limited, the dredger was anchored within the limits of NMPT on a contractual agreement with the port for dredging to ensure sufficient depth in the channel. The master of vessel (captain) had initially reported flooding in pump room on Saturday.
Later the same day, the master reported that flooding was under control. However, from late Sunday, the master contacted the coast guard and NMPT to report flooding in the same compartment. A repair team comprising of divers arranged by the owner on insistence from coast guard and NMPT, personally escorted by port’s deputy conservator boarded the dredger. Though the dredger had even keel, ICGS Amartya on patrol, monitored the situation through coast guard’s radar operating station (ROS).
Meanwhile, the master and local crew members on board the dredger continued to intimidate the authorities using external sources. At around 9.45pm on Sunday, the ROS at Panambur received a distress message from the vessel that was relayed to ICGS Amartya, which on arrival at the location shortly thereafter found that apart from 13 crew of the ship, seven members from the repair team were present, making it a total of 20 lives on board.
On preliminary assessment from outside, the dredger appeared to be stable and there was no threat to life on board the vessel. However, the master repeatedly continued expressing intention of abandoning the dredger with crew in a lifeboat. As the situation appeared under control, ICGS Amartya advised him to be patient and not do so, a scenario that NMPT also concurred. However, with the master insisting on abandoning ship, he was advised to speak to his employers before taking any hasty decision.
ICGS Amartya maintained in close vicinity of the vessel and was in constant communication with the vessel. Meanwhile, weather in the area deteriorated rapidly with swell height of 2-2.5m and poor visibility due to heavy rain. While the situation was being discussed at higher levels; even for possibilities of any oil spillage that may occur due to sinking of ship, the master lowered a lifeboat and 13 crew abandoned the dredger at around 2.30am.
In doing so, he left behind the repair team of seven members and also brought the dredger to a state of near darkness, switching off lights. ICGS Amartya rushed to help and rescued all 13 crew from lifeboat safely in a swift and daring rescue operation braving rough weather conditions and heavy rain. All rescued crew were taken on board by 3.25am. NMPT tug Ocean Esteem rescued remaining members of the repair team in coordination with ICGS Amartya.
During the rescue operation, ropes of lifeboat parted due to rough weather and the unmanned lifeboat remained adrift. Since visibility reduced drastically, lifeboat could not be kept in sight. However, as visibility improved, ICGS Amartya located lifeboat around 4.20am and kept it in sight till it was handed over to the pilot vessel of port at around 7.10am. DIG SS Dasila, commandant, Coast Guard, Karnataka said authorities have been asked to de-fuel the dredger to prevent an oil spill.
Courtesy: Times of India