Private sector shipping company Pratibha Shipping, which has a fleet of nine oil tankers, is planning to either sell or scrap five vessels due to financial crunch, Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) said on Friday

“For the past couple of months, the financial position of the company has been deteriorating which has resulted in the stranding of all nine ships...statutory and mandatory certificates (of ships) have expired,” a DGS statement said.

The vessels, owned by the company, are presently in ports or at anchorage or at the shipyards in Indian waters and overseas, the DGS statement added.

A majority of the vessels also have staff stranded on board and the DGS, in association with other bodies like seafarers unions, Coast Guard and ports, convened an emergency meeting to look into the issue yesterday.

It has been decided to let a majority of the sailors, who have pending wages, to go back to their respective home towns, it said.

A total of three vessels — Koyna at a port in Bahrain, and Chandrabhaga and Narmada in Chinese shipyards, are anchored in foreign shores, with owners having outstanding dues in both the geographies, the DGS said.

The DGS said the company, owned by the A N Pawar family since 2002 according to its website, has promised to settle the outstanding wages of the crew through the sale proceeds of the vessels being scrapped.

The additional details about the company’s owners were not immediately known.

Some of the ships are to be manned with the help from the seafarers unions, in keeping with minimum manning norms, and the company will reimburse the expenditure for the same through the sales proceeds, shipping authorities said.

During discussions, the company told the DGS that it plans to sell Chandrabhaga and Narmada, and send Tapi, Warna and Cauvery for scrapping, the DGS statement.

All the five ships have different tonnages and have been built in the 1980s in various shipyards across the world, according to the company’s website.

The company plans to continue commercial operations with Neera (double hull, 28,610 DWT), and Bheema (double hull, 1,54,971 DWT), the DGS said, adding that they are anchored off Vishakapatnam and Goa, respectively.

“After renewal of ship’s statutory certification, the owners propose to reactivate the commercial operations of these two ships,” the statement said.

The company officials were not immediately available for comments.

(This article was published on January 4, 2013)
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