Friday, September 07, 2007
Merchant vessel Cheng Le Men, carrying iron ore fines to China from New Mangalore Port, began listing to one side seven nautical miles from the port, off the Tannirbhavi coast. Captain Yang Jing Mu tried to bring the ship back to port, but the vessel ran aground some two nautical miles off the coast. Responding to a distress call from the Captain, the port authorities sent two tugs to pull the ship into deeper waters. Sources monitoring the situation said the impression given by the captain was that the ship was safe and was unlikely to capsize. The tugs were continuing to pull the ship further away from shore but “they have not succeeded yet”, the sources said. News spread around 3 p.m. that another ship was sinking off Tannirbhavi, where m.v. Den Den, an Eritrean ship, sank, killing three members of the crew on June 23. When contacted, P. Tamilvanan, chairman of the New Mangalore Port Trust, said that the ship sailed from New Mangalore Port at 11.30 a.m. carrying 16,100 tonnes of iron ore. The ship arrived at the port on September 1 from Dubai. It was bound for China via Singapore. However, when the ship began to list, the captain decided to return to the port and sought our assistance, Mr. Tamilvanan said.
A tug attempting to rescue merchant vessel Cheng Le Menoff the Tannirbhavi coast.The ship was presently stranded two nautical miles off the port, Mr. Tamilvanan said and added that the two tugs were on the job. “Our people are on the job and are trying to provide all assistance possible to the ship,” he said. Mr. Tamilvanan said the vessel, owned by a Chinese national, was registered at St. Vincent Island in the Caribbean. Superintendent of Police N. Sathish Kumar, who visited the spot, said the ship had 28 crew, including the captain. According to available information, the problem arose because of faulty loading of cargo. “The cargo holds were open allowing rainwater to enter. That led to the iron ore getting lumped on one side of the ship. This could have led to the ship tilting as it sailed,” he said. Now water is being pumped out of the hold in an attempt to get the ship back on even keel. The district administration, wiser after the incident involving m.v. Den Den, has kept the rescue machinery ready. A fire engine from New Mangalore Port and two ambulances are on standby. Besides, a team of local swimmers are ready to join the rescue operation. As the news of the stricken ship spread, a large number of people rushed to Tannirbhavi. The police had to block the road leading to Tannirbhavi, near the KIOCL entrance, to contain the flood of people and vehicles.