Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Mumbai oil spill - epilogue

So the MSC Chitra is still sitting there on Prong Reef and waiting to be salved. By this time I understand Smit Lloyd has the contract for salving both cargo and vessel. I read the vessel will be a full write off, I hope she will be floated and towed off to ship breakers.

Leaving her where she is now could alter the marine climate severely. I was told by a local accredited reef surveyor I happened to meet that Prong Reef has wonderful corals there. I can only imagine what is the damage there now after all the heavy fuel oil that has leaked out.

Chitra can't blame it on Khalijia writes Mumbai Mirror but reading the article I can deem the Khalijia III came in on port side of MSC Chitra and was in error as the management claims. Also the Police argues correctly that action should have been take earlier to avoid the collision.

Pink color showing Khalijia III, red MSC Chitra

Compensation notice slapped on Chitra writes DNA but does not delve in the reasons of the collision and what caused the oil spill (Khalijia III's impact on Chitra).

Oil clean up in front of Colaba by Navy Cadets. I hope this incident will still be remembered when they get older and some of them hopefully into positions where they can make a difference.

Ravens eating dead fish on the Mandwa beach

Chitra too old for high seas was written in Mumbai Mirror is a new rule for me. I don't know where they have dug up that International ports do not allow vessels that are older than 20 yrs of age alongside. My opinion is that as long as the vessel is properly surveyed by Class society and carries the requisite valid certificates to prove it as well as the mandatory insurances (pollution, hull, machinery, crew) she is legally seaworthy and if anything happens in between surveys it is the Master's duty to report to the Company that his vessel is not fit for sea.

State wants 3cr for cleanup op on (30mil INR ~ 6.00.000 USD) it still sounds cheap in my ears.

No clean chit for Captain's and here they touch the issue of why this led to an accident.

Another plot showing both vessels in the channel, blue Khalijia III, red MSC Chitra

Oil spill extent imagery is being published by the India's space research agency and it can be clearly seen that the oil has spread far up into Navi Mumbai and down to Alibag (as I also have experienced first hand). While I was down in Alibag I took a stroll down the beach and met three chaps from the MNHS (Mumbai Natural History Society) and they told me they had been commissioned to survey the whole Maharashtra coast for the damages.

Mandwa beach littered with oil smeared cookie packets

Meanwhile the debate has spurned off some interesting dialogue and brought daylight on some other issues like e.g. shipping empty containers with papers that they contain export goods in a scam to cheat the government on tax money, see this: Chitra containers stuffed with scrap.

Pollution on Mandwa beach

The other good thing that may have come out of this debacle is that India is considering to sign the bunker pact on oil spilled by vessels.

Dead fish on Mandwa beach after pollution

The piece the resistance comes in the black box transcript from MSC Chitra published by I have copied it down below as the website may be virus infected according to my web browser:

The transcript of the SVDR recording:9:35:04: Chitra turns to Starboard 20
9:35:05: CHITRA: “Isko kya ho gaya?” (What is he doing?) (Captain of Chitra reacting to what appears to be MV Khalijia swerving sharply to port side after having stayed on her starboard side while approaching the navigational channel)
9:35:25: KHALIJIA 3: “MSC, MSC, this is Khalijia 3. I am altering to port. I am altering my course to port. Pass on my starboard. Over.”
9:35:37: KHALIJIA 3: “MSC MSC, this is Khalijia 3. I am altering to port. I am altering to port. You also to port please.”
9:35:37: CHITRA: “Paagal ho gaya hai kya?” (Is he crazy?) (Captain of Chitra talking on board, appears to be talking to a duty officer)
9:35:41: CHITRA: “Hard starboard” (urgently, ordering finally evasive action, too late)
9:35:49: KHALIJIA 3: “MSC, MSC. Alter to port please.”
9:35:51: KHALIJIA 3: “Alter to port please.” 

9:35:59: “Alter to port.”

Below are a few videos shedding further light on the accident:

Showing Khalijia III & MSC Chitra right after collision

This is one of the first reports showing Officials and Chitra

This is a Hindi report of the accident showing diagrams of how the collision happened, very illuminating

Now, having read the black box transcript and seen the last video with the diagrams I would dare to opine that Khalijia III may have had some steering issues, perhaps due to technical reasons. MSC Chitra may have been doing "dead slow" on her engine (slow rudder response) and then reacted too slowly to the sudden threat developed by Khalijia III's unexpected continued turn. Captain of Chitra correctly by the rules also turned to starboard in case Khalijia III would manage to go to starboard (thats why he asked his Duty Officer if he [Capt of Khalijia III] is crazy as nobody usually makes a port evasive turn). Instead of talking on the VHF a rudder maneuver should have been immediately ordered. Khalijia III should have taken full astern on her engine when she realised something is wrong with her steering. (Easy to be after smart here).

These points will be considered in the arbitration court in London where the ratio of who pays how much of the lost cargo, written off vessels, lost charter time, oil spill cleanup etc.

Not least but last I read an article by Darryl D'Monte going very deep into root causes of the cost of oil. I have taken liberty to quote a few passages from the article:

"The irony is that MbPT is part of history and should now be phased out. It had its heyday during the East India Co and British Raj when it handled much of the trade. "

"What is more, MbPT occupies 1,800 acres of prime real estate in the island city, three times the area of the city’s controversial mill lands, and could be redeveloped as a recreation and housing hub. Of course, the needs of the few thousand remaining dock workers have to be accommodated, but many of the world’s cities have seen a makeover of their docklands, London in particular."

These issues I have blogged about earlier and is showing MbPT's greed in how they are now developing the Prince's dock into a container terminal when they should be looking at getting the container traffic to places where it belongs, i.e. closer to the industries and not population. Instead they are inviting more ships into the port and also increasing the risk of further accidents in the future.


CyberCaptain said...

The Director General is leaning towards m/v Khalijia III being at fault in todays Mumbai Mirror:

CyberCaptain said...

The bill for the oil spill is now starting to come out, Mumbai Mirror reports that up to 20Cr INR has been filed and estimates of final bill is up to 45Cr INR.

The guilt of m/v Khalijia III is still not confirmed.

Full article: