Antony to chair meeting on ship incidents

August 8th, 2011 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony will Wednesday chair a meeting of maritime security brass from the navy and the coast guard to assess how an unmanned vessel ran aground near Mumbai last month without being detected by security agencies. The meeting will also take up issues related to the oil spill from another sunken cargo vessel, officials said.

Tanker MT Pavit, flying a Panama flag, from Ras Al Madrakah in Oman ran aground at Juhu beach in Mumbai 10 days ago following engine failure and flooding of its engine room. Another cargo vessel, MV Rak Carrier, sank off the Mumbai harbour Aug 4, caused a major oil spill.

The meeting, to be attended among others by Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and Indian Coast Guard Director General Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, will review the existing security set-up in the light of gaping holes revealed by the MT Pavit breach, defence ministry officials told IANS here Monday.

Pavit, which had been abandoned by its crew in the first week of July off Oman coast, had drifted its way into the Indian waters.

The vessel went unnoticed despite the coast guard and the navy having trained fishermen over the last two years since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks to act as their “eyes and ears”.

The meeting will also review the sinking of cargo vessel MV Rak Carrier Aug 4 that has caused a major oil spill off Mumbai coast.

A defence ministry statement said the coast guard carried out “an aerial recce” of the oil spill area for an hour in the morning and found that the spill had decreased in quantum as compared to Sunday.

“The rate of spill has reduced to approximately one tonne per hour. Oil slick is visibly thin and a broken silvery sheen extending up to two miles from the scene of incident is seen,” the statement said here.

It said the broken oil patches were also sighted up to 12 nautical miles from the sunken vessel. “These are still about eight to nine miles from the coast,” it added.

Coast guard ships Samudra Prahari and Sankalp continued to be engaged in pollution response operation, the release said.

“The coast guard has also pressed ship ICGS Amrit Kaur into action. An aircraft has also been deployed for pollution response operation from Daman,” it added.

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