Citizen’s Diary… Stephen Dias
Sunday, September 10, 2017:
Today is the day the Lucky Seven towing operations are supposed to commence.
I’m at the Miramar beach from the start of the operation along with a friend of mine (ex-member of the GCZMA), and another Goan, Sagardip, who is an expert who was earlier attached to Arihant Ship breakers.
Sagardip says that a heavy ton weight anchor (2.5 mtrs) and heavy concrete blocks including chains were already off loaded much before the operation. (Photo 1) He is not sure about the propellers removal. He was at the site before me and the ex-GCZMA member.
It looks to me that the vessel might have already ruptured. The high pressure water output pumping through the outlet on the starboard side seems to be less than the intake of sea water due to rupture if any. (Photo 2) It’s likely there’s been additional seepage through a new hole or a crack which might have happened during the towing operation by the tug.
The vessel starts drifting towards the starboard side due to the heavy currents and because the propeller of the port side which might have been grounded which acted as a fulcrum for turning the vessel towards the right. Now the bow of the vessel is pointing towards the beach. (Photo 3)
The operation is abandoned (probably to the snap of tow cable) much before the high tide set down because we can see every one in the deck resting.
Due to the vessel acting as a sea breaker there has been massive shore erosion happening and it had formed a so-called platform of about 1 meter height. (Photo 4) Apart from that, there is additional damage happening along the shore line as can be seen. (Photo 5) My friend ex-member of GCZMA, being an expert on environmental issues, feels that there is additional erosion and damage to the beach and environment due to these operational activities.
On a positive note, the vessel was seen rolling after she was floated and the tilt has been much minimized. That means if everything is fine the operation can be resumed tomorrow or some other time when high tide is favourable.
If any rupture has taken place, it needs to be repaired before the next operation, otherwise all this effort is going to be wasted.
I am concerned about cracks that might have developed under the ship’s engine/generators. These will not be visible and that is the reason it needs under water studies or dry docking. I was told by the owner’s representative who was present on the beach that the Lucky Seven is a double bottom vessel. The thickness of the double bottom plate might have reduced according to the age of the vessel which needs to be checked up by acoustic sensors testing equipment at the dry dock for validity of the vessel to comply under mercantile (MMD) Act and shipping rules.
During an earlier discussion in the morning with one Mr Tariq, representative of the vessel owner, I was told that the Lucky Seven after inspection and repairs at Jaigad, should be back in the river Mandovi within three months.
The mission to tow the Lucky Seven on September 10 has failed. The attempt fizzled out and the operation was abandoned at this time.
Monday, September 11, 2017 & Tuesday, September 12, 2017:
I go to the beach both evenings. No change. Both days the mission is abandoned with plans to try again the next day. This is becoming a joke. Is this so-called Egyptian tug (Photo 6) really pulling the Lucky Seven or just pretending to?! Maybe they are scared because one cable snapped on Sunday. Generally heavy duty tugs have gauges on board that can monitor the pull pressure, but it seems that no-one from the owner’s or government’s side is monitoring the pull pressure on board here. I wonder why the owner didn’t hire more powerful tugs that are available in India itself. Maybe they were more expensive.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017:
The towing exercise was abandoned at 4 pm today. High tide was 1.9 mtrs. The hired tug is seen far behind (1 km approx) since the draft of the tug is 5 mtrs and it cannot come too close to shore for fear of running aground (Photo 7). Another smaller capacity tug hired by the Captain of Ports can be seen providing guidance to the big tug since it can use its echo sounder closer to shore. The distance from the shore to the aft of the vessel was 45 to 50 mtrs today. Some newspapers have said the tug succeeded in pulling the ship 5 mtrs, but I disagree. To pull the ship forward 5 mtrs would mean that they had successfully dislodged the bottom. But in that case they would have pulled it even further. I believe the Lucky Seven is still stuck and is here to stay for some time. There is some talk that the tug is only pretending to pull the ship perhaps due to some vested interests or perhaps they fear that the hull plate the bottom of hull may rupture further.
Thursday, September 14, 2017 & Friday, September 15, 2017:
The operation has been suspended until further instructions from the Captain of Ports. The ship and tides are being monitored but no attempts are being made to pull the ship. According to sources the next attempt to move the ship will be just before September 20, as the tides are expected to be highest on the 20th – a phenomenon locals call ‘baang panin’!