Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The captain of the MV Akbar, one of the two ships which shuttle between Kolkata and the Andamans, died mid-cruise on Monday night, within hours of pulling out of the Netaji Subhas Dock (NSD) in Kolkata. The ship was brought back to the city and a frantic search ensued for a replacement as the 900-odd passengers were made to wait on board. A new master was found and the ship finally steamed off for the emerald isles on Tuesday evening. Sources in the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) said the incident is unprecedented. The MV Akbar left Kolkata docks on Monday evening on schedule, piloted by K P Noble, who has been a captain for 25 years. The ship anchored for the night at Garden Reach, as per the norms, and waited for the morning tide.
MV AkbarOn Tuesday, when the crew knocked on the door of the master’s cabin, there was no response. They broke down the door to find the 57-year-old sea veteran dead. The ship’s doctor suspects Noble died of a massive heart attack sometime in the night. The ship was brought back to Kolkata under the chief officer and SCI officials began searching for an officer who was senior enough to take command of the vessel. The 900-odd passengers were not allowed to get off the vessel. “This was a crisis we had never faced. Though we have ships in the area, we had to look for the right person. Not many passenger vessels operate in India now and there are few officers who have experience on such ships. There are even fewer such vessels which anchor at Kolkata and finding a captain was difficult,” an SCI officer said.