Ban entry of over 25-year-old ships in Indian ports: Panel

Kolkata | Updated on January 10, 2011 Published on January 10, 2011

Capt. P.V.K. Mohan Committee, constituted by the Shipping Ministry a month ago to examine the inquiry report on the collision between two ships, MSC Chitra and Khalijia III, near Mumbai port on August 7 last year, in its report, recommended banning the entry of over 25-year-old ships in Indian ports.

“A free flow of information between the office of the Director-General of Shipping and various ports is critical for acting on information on any un-seaworthy ship in any port,” according to Capt. Mohan. “Sadly, the present level of communication leaves much to be desired.”

Mr K. Raghuramaiah, former Chairman of Paradip Port Trust, and Capt. Y. Sharma, Head, International Maritime Training Centre, Mumbai, were part of the committee that submitted its report to the Ministry recently.

The other suggestions of the committee include the constitution of an independent casualty investigation agency to report directly to the Shipping Ministry, setting up a suitable authority on the line of the UK's SOSREP (Secretary of State Representative) with overriding powers to ensure proper co-ordination among various agencies at the time of casualty, restructuring the decision-making hierarchy in various ports to tackle emergency such as collision, and the extension of the scope of the Navigational Safety Committee in Ports to mandatorily cover all major ports.

The report contains 18 suggestions. Some of them are relevant for Mumbai and Jawaharlal Nehru ports, some others for all major ports and the balance policy initiatives to be taken by the ministry.

The committee is of the view that the authorities of the Mumbai Port Trust and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust must upgrade the MoU signed by them more than 20 years ago. Also, a separate VTS (vessel traffic system) authority should be formed under the Mumbai Port Trust to provide pilot service along the entire stretch of the channel.

Pilots from common pool

The pilots should be picked up from a common pool and work under a unified command. The manning, training and qualification of operators and supervisors of VTS should be upgraded; the VTS system too must be modernised to have features such as guard-range, and the navigational safety in these two ports must be audited by an external oversight body. The proposals for widening the channel and pilot boarding areas should be expedited. Also, navigational aids such as fairway and navigation buoys and transit lights should be installed without delay.

The committee is of the view that the Certificate of Competence of the Masters and the Documents of Compliance issued to Technical Managers of the ships involved in the collision should be suspended.

The instructions to all ports include voluntary review of navigational safety by the Navigational Safety Committee now virtually defunct in most ports, review of contingency planning in crisis management plan, installation of Tier-I pollution control equipment, if necessary, in participation with ONGC or IndianOil or other oil companies and tightening of port entry regulations.

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Published on January 10, 2011
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