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Ships stranded off Kochi port as fishing boat sinks in channel

Saturday, Sep 23, 2017,9:51 IST By joji A A A

Kochi | Vessels bound for Kochi sea port and International Container Terminal have been stranded offshore after a fishing boat sank in the Ernakulam channel creating grave navigational hazard for big national and international vessels in the route. Vessels having more than 10 metres draft, especially container vessels for ICTT, are not able to enter the port, the Cochin Port Trust said in a letter to the state fisheries department.

The Port Trust authorised a Kochi-based private shipping firm to recover the fishing boat which sank on September 19 in the channel.

A port trust official said the firm which won the Rs 29.5 lakh contract through tender process has been given four days time from for salvaging the boat.

The area where the boat sank has been identified by experts from the port trust and the Navy has confirmed it, he said.

The port trust said it is sustaining irreparable damages, every single day after the fishing boat, which entered “unauthorisedly” in the key Ernakulam channel, sank.

The port trust hit out at the marine enforcement wing, saying the incident occurred when the vessel was being towed to the harbour by another fishing boat permitted by it “unauthorisedly violating the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.”

It also accused the Marine Enforcement Wing of causing “grave navigational hazard” in the route by “illegally allowing” the towing of the damaged boat through the key channel controlled by the port trust.

“In the Cochin Port Trust area, there is only one channel, through which the entire national and international vessels navigate. Any tresspass blockade in the channel is a matter, which is viewed very seriously.”

“Therefore, plying of any boat or other vessels that too unseaworthy once shall be done only after obtaining Cochin Port’s permission, which has not been done in this case,” said the letter sent to the state fisheries director by the port trust vice chairman.

Noting that there is only one navigational channel to cater to Cochin Port Trust and International Container Terminal, the letter said vessels having more than 10.0 metres draft, especially container vessels for ICTT, are not able to enter the port.

“The damage is caused by a fishing vessel registered under fisheries department, which we are informed that did not even have the mandatory insurance.Further towing was done by a fishing vessel registered under you,” it said.

The letter alleged that the marine enforcement wing also had knowledge about the towing being carried out and it was done under its supervision.

“These illegal acts by the marine enforcement wing and the fishing vessels have caused this grave navigational hazard. The navigational hazard has to be removed immediately by all those who are responsible for causing it,” it said.

The port trust said legal action would be initiated against the boat owners and all persons responsible to recover the port’s losses.