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Friday, 26 August 2011

Ongoing discussion with INSA on the subject of Indian seafarers and more . . .

From Anil Devli/INSA:-

"A few points from INSA (Indian National Shipowners Association) to provide
Indian shipping's perspective on this issue.

The usage and utility of armed guards has been debated much as various
international fora including at the IMO who has finally come out with a position
on the use of Armed Guards, as have other international associations or agencies
such as BIMCO, ICS, and ISF. The use of armed guards on merchant vessels was
discussed at the 89th session of the IMO in May 2011 and interim guidance on the
employment of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships
transiting the high risk piracy area was approved.

The use of such PCASP is not considered as an alternative to Best Management
Practices (BMP) and other protective measures. Placing armed guards on board as
a means to secure and protect the vessel and its crew is only an additional
measure at best, and something which all Indian ship owners would do in
discussion and in consultation with the Master of the vessel. However, much of
this is academic since we are awaiting permission from the GoI to employ such
Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP). We have been told that
such a policy should be released soon. Incidentally, it is not unknown for
tankers to have used PCASP's on board their vessels.

However, while the usage of PCASP's are an interim measure, INSA has always
advocated the use of our Naval Personnel, (trained commandos) who would be
posted on Indian flag vessels in order to secure the safety of the crew, the
cargo and the vessel. The comfort factor to the Indian seafarer of having
somebody from his own armed forces guarding him is immense but equally important
is the fact that having our own Navy guarding our ships ensures that the
national security angle within our ports and our coastal waters is also secured.
INSA hopes to see a positive comeback from the Indian government on this.

It would be erroneous to assume that some ship owning company is always at fault
whenever an Indian seafarer is in peril. As it is incorrect to suggest that ship
owners and ship managers are comfortable with seafarers on board being the
collateral damage. On the contrary, Indian flag ship owning companies have
shared a long relationship with its crew – with several of them rising from the
rank of trainee cadets over the years.

What in fact has broken this bond and increased attrition rates within the
Indian shipping industry by facilitating large migration of Indian seafarers to
foreign flag companies – is Indian government's policy of differential taxation.
The wages of an Indian seafarer on board Indian flag vessel are subject to tax
whereas those paid for doing a similar voyage on a foreign flag vessel is tax
free. By incentivizing, this policy has fueled the drain from Indian flag ships
to foreign flag vessels.

In this context too, INSA has demanded several times that the tax treatment for
Indian seafarers on Indian flag ships should be on par with that on foreign flag
but we have yet to see the government do something about this.

The casualty in all of this is the Indian seafarer and the Indian ship owner.
These two are the only entities left holding the baby. There has been little
hesitation in certain quarters to term Piracy as a "business" since every
stakeholder seems to be raking in money – from the underwriters who charge
additional premiums to the negotiators, insurers, security companies and of
course the pirates. It is the seafarer who faces personal risk and a responsible
ship owning company who has to attempt and resolve the issue at the earliest and
in the best possible manner.

While our Navy has done an excellent job in controlling piracy within the
coastal zone of India and has been extremely active in tackling pirates and
their vessels in the Indian Ocean region, we at INSA believe that it is time for
the Indian government to escalate this to the United Nations Security Council.
An international force under the aegis of the United Nations against the scourge
of Piracy is the only definitive answer.

INSA believes that the media can play an extremely important role in building
public opinion that would make action by United Nations Security Council
inevitable. However, other than a few articles on piracy, one does not see much
policy shaping or opinion creating endeavours by our media. We at INSA would be
more than happy to share information/data with the media as we appear to be in
consonance on the core issues – safety of Indian nationals, future of shipping,
trade, economy and above all national security. "


Original article as well as my response to INSA are here:-\


Dear Mr. Devli/INSA, thank you for writing in, thank you for reaching out, and thank you for the points brought up.

A full response shall be provided to you on INSA address after consulting with the editors of MONEYLIFE.

I would like to respond interim as follows;-

# On armed guards, in the specific case of the FAIRCHEM BOGEY, which as you know is an American controlled ship operating under the Marshall Islands FOC, there were armed guards on board till the 18th of August. they were then withdrawn because SALALAH anchorage was considered 'safe'.

# However, on the larger issue of armed guards onboard merchant ship, taking into account a variety of issues including lifeboat capacity, accomodation, line of command, inter-personal issues, port state issues, much still remains to be done. A strong flag state like India can, if it chooses to, bulldoze its way on this subject if it wants to.

# To blame the exit of Indian seafarers from Indian flag to foreign flag only for reasons of taxation is to miss the woods for the trees. This is another subject which can be debated at length.

# The media is not some sort of tap, to be switched on and off at will, as your last para suggests. In the first instance, INSA and its members will need to open themselves up for much more scrutiny from the media, on a variety of issues like:-

=how many INSA members are also owners/operators of foreign flag/FOC vessels.
=where is INSA on wage negotiations with Indian seafarers.
=why are Indian seafarers on Indian ships not treated as "employees" by INSA members, but instead, kept on contractual basis.
=what is INSA's position on citadels and non-armed responses onboard Indian flag ships.
=what is INSA's position on additional insurance as well as compensation for Indian seafarers on Indian ships who end up in trouble of any sort including piracy.
=what is INSA's position on the RPS Rules 2005 from DGS, which acts as a direct counter-punch to anything that INSA expects wrt employing Indian seafarers?

=Most of all, what is INSA doing to encourage media to interact with Indian seafarers on Indian ships, along the lines of what, for example, the Indian Armed Forces are doing lately?

There is a lot that INSA can and should do, instead of just picking on one aspect - taxation. Today Indian seafarers on Indian flag ships are not given shore leave in Indian ports, they are treated like rubbish by the vast variety of "authorities" who are inter-acting with ships in port, the big issue of still keeping seafarers on contractual "wages" instead of on employment is ofcourse mentioned.

Thank you for writing in. I would certainly wish to take these issues forward, but please look within - when was the last time INSA came out strongly on issues pertaining to the way shipping is being destroyed in India, especially Indian flag?

The answer, Mr. Devli, lies in the simple fact that most of the INSA members have more ships under foreign / FOC flag than under Indian. So obviously, where do the real interests lie?

Warm regards/Veeresh Malik


Some home truths about INSA (Indian National Shipowner's Association):-

# Still going out to lunch on the SS LOYALTY
# New membership very difficult almost impossible.
# No forms of other membership for national interest like inland waters, port craft, dredgers, offshore vessels, etc.
# Most members have foreign flag ships.
# Terms of employment for floating staff are sweatshop era.
# Want media support but unwilling be transparent.
# No clear position on issues like cabotage.

As stated before, INSA has a credibility issue, but refuses to accept it.


Monday, 22 August 2011

Further update on FAIRCHEM BOGEY IMO 9423750

Here's an update on what reportedly happened with the FAIRCHEM BOGEY, and a sordid tale of ineptitude and lack of real concern all around, as well as the realities.

# The FAIRCHEM BOGEY was anchored about 2 miles away from the shore.
# The first boarding by pirates was at about 0500 hours local time, when there was apparently only a quartermaster on the bridge, since the ship's complement was extremely tired. Fudging of time sheets is not an unknown truth in an industry where people have to prove that they worked only about 100 hours a week.
# Alarms and MAYDAY issued on Channel 16 immediately, and then continued on Channel 16 open for all in vicinity to hear.
# More pirates boarded till about 0700 hours local time.
# The Port of Salalah immediately contacted the Royal Omani Army, Navy and Coast Guard - it appears that the Navy did not even have anybody to pick up the phone at 0500 hrs.
# It took the ship 3 hours and 20 minutes to start moving seawards under pirate control from anchor. It is assumed that about 1.5/2.0 hours was spent in getting in and then out of the citadel, some seafarers were left outside the citadel, though this is not confirmed either.
# When Royal Omani Navy deployed a patrol boat and ordered the vessel to stop or they would shoot, the response was "don't shoot they will kill us" from the ship.
# Helicopters were not deployed to attempt to put special forces onboard, also slight mist/fog, reported.
# The Royal Omani patrolboat that followed gave up the chase after about 40 nautical miles.
# An Italian and a Chinese warship which were present in Salalah declined to do anything as the incident was in Omani territorial waters.
# Some members of the ship's complement were apparently able to contact their family members.


The bigger issues here will be discussed in the next post. Interim, it is interesting to note that the owners/operators of the FAIRCHEM BOGEY have taken down much of the details of their company from their website, though the same are available variously elsewhere.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

FAIRCHEM BOGEY pirated from Salalah Anchorage

Here's Jugal Purohit's blog on the subject of the FAIRCHEM BOGEY piracy from Salalah (Oman/Muscat) anchorage in broad daylight.

More follows.

Pirates of the Somali basin, early this morning, took their prowess a notch above when they managed to whisk out a chemical/oil tanker right from under the nose of the authorities at the Port of Salalah. The MT Fairchem Bogey (IMO: 9423750; GRT: 15190; Flag: Marshall Island) was at anchorage, barely 4-5 nautical miles from the shore after entering the port in the early hours of August 18.
The Fairchem Bogey was to load 20,000 tonnes of methanol later today and sail out on August 21.
Even though the disease of piracy has forced the Europeans and Chinese to deploy naval assets to safeguard their economic interests, it was only today that this neighbouring port which claims to be a ‘worldclass transshipment hub’ was woken up to the reality of being in a conflict zone. Unfortunately though, the price for this folly is being paid by the hijacked crew of 21 Indians on board the ship.
Latest positions reveal the ship as travelling south-west, towards Somalia and has logged atleast 90 nautical miles since being taken over. As far as the news of this development, which can affect ‘business interests’, it is learnt that it may just be relegated to the cold storage in Omani media.

Sequence of events
According to a source, it was a dhow (Ocean-going trawler) which was used by the pirates to work its way up to the ill-fated ship and hijack it. “For a dhow to be in the anchorage is very normal, unlike in the other ports. That is because, this area sees a lot of unregistered trade which dhows carry out. The reach of these dhows extends from the Gujarat coast in India till the Horn of Africa,” said a source located in Salalah.
However, an alert sailor on watch duty onboard the Fairchem Bogey actually detected something amiss and raised an alarm. “Immediately, the crew hurried to the strong-house or citadel and locked themselves up. From there, they pleaded with the port authorities for help,” the source added. Simultaneously, an unknown number of pirates’ managed to climb onboard the ship. “It was the crew’s misfortune that one or two crew members could not make it to the citadel and were left out. This worked to the pirates advantage as the well-armed bandits apprehended the isolated crew members,” the official added.
A practice followed very religiously is that once even a single crew member falls into the hand of an armed pirate, then all means of using force to secure their fate are withdrawn. This is done to avoid risking the life/lives of the crew member/s.
With that act of apprehending, the fate of the 21 Indians onboard, thus was sealed.
In addition to this, the pirates also got two full hours to force the remaining crew out of the citadel and complete their mission. Once done, the ship charted its course to the Somali badlands. As per information available, the captain of the ship also communicated to the authorities that armed pirates had taken charge of the ship and thus all action be suspended.
Security Level 1
Speaking to a local operator, aware of the inner-workings of the Salalah port, it was understood that despite the proximity to the Somali and Yemeni coast – the springboards of the modern-day piracy – the state of alert at the port was at level one. Effectively, this would translate into a ‘normal’ state of affairs with hardly any enhanced security measures in place. Could this have been averted? “Of course. The authorities here have rather been lax as something as daring as this has never even been conceived,” he stated.

“At present, the authorities are desperately seeking clues on this spectacular raid. Inquiries are being made and rumours mills are working over-time. But the fact remains that they have little or no lead,” added the source.
Helpless in such cases: DG Shipping
In a document accessed, the DGS, which has often attracted flak for being unable to react effectively to this malaise, has admitted that it has virtually no jurisdiction to tackle cases like this even where Indian interests are involved.
The port authorities meanwhile did not immediately offer a comment.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Why are Indian ports the destination for every over-age rustbucket in the world?

As published at MoneyLife:-

Why are overage ships with improper documents being chartered for Indian ports?
August 08, 2011 06:25 PM
Veeresh Malik

New questions are cropping up everyday over the Rak Carrier and Pavit, but nobody is giving any answers; and all this is happening in the region of India’s biggest naval base

As the issue of oil from the tanks of the MV Rak Carrier and the MT Pavit start reaching the coastline and bays, as well as estuaries around Mumbai, the issues of the documentation around the two ships starts getting even murkier, as does what appears to be a combined effort to cover-up. The fact remains, however, that unlike in the case of the similarily overage MSC Chitra, where a specific collision caused very specific damage to the ship before it went down more or less intact by way of oil tanks and other spaces, in the case of the Rak Carrier a progressive breakup is going to create havoc, and in the case of the Pavit the complete mystery of how a ship that was allegedly sinking landed up off Mumbai with oil drums lashed and intact on deck is going to need more forensic capabilities than shown so far.

As seafarers all over the world know, the first thing that goes adrift and overboard, breaking loose from any restraint whatsover, are the lubricating and hydraulic oil drums stored on deck, simply because they are the most exposed items on deck. In the case of the Pavit, despite everything reported, the sight of oil drums merrily standing neatly made fast on deck is in itself as miraculous as, for example, the fact that the ship itself did not sink after being abandoned.

However, it is what appears to be a multiple cover-up in the case of the Rak Carrier that nurtures astonishment of a degree which is doing more than lifting eyebrows all over. This is over and above what appears to be a fairly well planned evacuation from the ship, to use a polite word, leaving it to sink at a location where it will cause yet some more hazards to marine life as well as other passing traffic. All this in the biggest naval base in India.

Consider this:

# The chief officer of the Rak Carrier, in an interview on TimesNow television, claimed that the ship had arrived in Mumbai as early as 12th July, and then took stores as well as fuel while anchored off Mumbai. How she managed this in the monsoons in the first case and without customs or immigration formalities in the other, is something that needs to be responded to. So far, there's been deep silence. Immigration comes under the Intelligence Bureau, so it is not possible to get this information under the Right to Information Act and as for customs it is absolutely likely that the ship simply did not inform the Indian Customs.

# There is still no response from anybody—neither the owners, nor charterers, or cargo interests, or the Directorate General of Shipping, or whoever-on what class this ship carries and who was responsible for declaring in the statement from the Press Information Breau that she was under Lloyd's Register, when Lloyd's themselves have published that they withdrew class in November 2010. How a ship was chartered in with cargo for India when she was not only very overage, but also without class is not being explained. Again, deep silence.

# The Maharashtra police have, as per reports, filed for "negligence" under the Indian Penal Code. This is about as easy as it gets, though prima facie, this epsiode smacks of criminal conspiracy, fraud and attempt to destroy evidence. There is no information on whether the ship's staff brought the hard discs of the various logs and data recorders on board, though they seem to have had time to get their packed bags, computers, personal documents and more.

# From the environmental point of view, it is amply clear that this is much more than just a state government issue. The impact of this specific pollution is going to be what it is, but it will embolden others to come and do what they want within India's economic zone, whether it is fishing or dumping oil and other pollutants. In addition, there is a national security angle, which again goes beyond the singular purview of the state. When are the central investigative agencies going to step in?

# A gazette notification was published on 29 December 2005 instructing all parties that ships bringing cargoes into India are to adhere to certain simple logical compliances as far as insurance and other related issues like pollution and wreck removal are concerned. This gazette notification was kept in abeyance soon thereafter, without any explanation why, on 2 August 2006. Here is the notice.

The text of the Gazette of India notification no. 403 dated 20 September 2005 is reproduced hereunder.

" G.S.R. 600(E) - In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 6 of the Indian Ports Act, 1908 (15 of 1908), the Central Government hereby makes the following rules to regulate the entry of vessels into Ports, namely:
1. (1) These rules may be called the Entry of Vessels into Ports Rules, 2005.
(2) They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

2.   Insurance cover:
Owner of a vessel entering a Port shall have to produce an insurance cover for compensation in relation to:
(i) Wreck removal expenses;
(ii) Pollution damage caused by spillage of oil or any hazardous and noxious substances; from a Protection and Indemnity Club which is a member of an International Group of Protection and Indemnity Club or a Club duly approved by the Central Government.

3. The vessel which fails to produce the insurance cover referred to in rule 2 shall not be allowed to enter the Port:
Provided that the provisions of these rules shall not be applicable to a non Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) Convention vessel if the owner of the vessel furnishes an undertaking for compensation to the port in connection with expenses which port may incur on removal of wreck and pollution damages caused.

4.  Explanation: 
Non Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) ships means a cargo ship with less than 500 gross tonnage (GT) and includes a ship engaged on domestic voyage, a domestic passenger ship and other small ship being used as fishing vessel and tug."

However, on 2 August 2006, the same ministry deemed it fit to issue another gazette notification: -

"The entry of vessels into Port Rules 2005 published in the extraordinary gazette dated September 20, 2005, vide No. G.S.R. 600(E) under Section 6 of the Indian Ports Act 1908 (15 of 1908) is kept in abeyance with immediate effect until further order of the Central Government of India".

That gives all of us an idea of the real direction that the central government is taking in context with the issue of insurance, or lack of insurance thereof, for ships visiting Indian ports.

Another circular/notification from the Directorate General of Shipping on the subject of overage ships, especially during the monsoons, is reproduced in its entirety, and nothing more need be said about the subject. It is another fact and truth that overage ships of all sorts regularly visit Indian ports, for what is known as "commercial considerations", of all sorts.
Shipping Development Circular No.1 of 2008

NO: SD-9/CHRT(82)/97-IV          Dated  25.04.2008                                                                               
Subject :  Revised guidelines for chartering of vessels under Sections 406 and 407 of Merchant Shipping Act ,1958.

Concerned by the rising trend of marine accidents in and around Indian waters especially during rough weather, the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways set up a Committee in July, 2007 to suggest urgent measures to reduce marine casualties.  Since analysis of the accidents over the last 3 years showed a significant correlation between age of vessels and the break-downs which caused these casualties, the Committee recommended, inter-alia, the revision of guidelines to restrict the age of vessels plying in Indian waters and a tighter regime of surveys and inspections.

2. Accordingly, in the interest of maritime safety, it has been decided to modify existing guidelines for chartering of vessels under Sections 406 and 407 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 (M S Act).  Existing  DGS Circulars Nos. 7 of 2003 dated 11.06.03 and 8 of 2003 dated 14.08.2003 (read with clarifications vide Memorandum dated 21.11.2003 and 31.12.2003), restrict only the charters of tankers to those which are less than 25 years (30 years in the case of gas carriers) and are CAS and CAP-2 rated and classed with IACS.

3. It is now further decided, after taking into consideration the views and objections of a wide range of stakeholders, that, with effect from 15th May 2008, applications for permissions for chartering in / grant of licence to vessels under Sections 406 and 407 of the MS Act either for single or specific voyages or time charters that enable vessels to visit an Indian port or to ply in Indian territorial waters or the Indian EEZ will be entertained only as follows:

3.1 During the period of foul weather, being 1st June till 31st August in the Arabian Sea along the West Coast and 1st May till 30th November in the Bay of Bengal along the East Coast of the Indian Peninsula:

3.1.1 From all cargo vessels - other than gas carriers, oil or product tanker and   dredgers - only if they are less than 25 years of age. 

3.1.2 From gas carriers, only if they are less than 30 years of age.

3.1.3 From oil or product tankers, only if they are double hull or if single hull, less than 20 yrs and fulfilling the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) requirements as assessed by the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) or Classification Societies that are notified as Recognized Organizations by the Government.   Consequently, SD Circulars 7 and 8 of 2003 giving guidelines for chartering of oil and product tankers will stand modified accordingly for the period of foul weather.

3.1.4 For all time charters of vessels other than passenger vessels, to be entered into with effect from 15th May, 2008, which include in the period of charter any period of foul weather, only if the age of the vessel proposed is less than 25 years at the time of termination of the charter period.

3.2 Regardless of the period of the year - from Offshore Service Vessels (OSVs) of all description (e.g. anchor handling tug, accommodation barge, tug, supply vessels, support vessels, barges, pontoons, etc.) or any other type of vessels which are chartered-in / engaged for the purposes of  plying in and around offshore oil exploration areas and / or where security/safety sensitivities are high, only from those that are less than 25 years old, are classed with the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS); and    have undergone inspection and rectification of deficiencies of hull, machinery, safety appliances and operational requirements (e.g. manning, etc.) before entry into Indian territorial waters.

4. All shipping companies, exporters, importers and agents may kindly take note of the change in eligibility of vessels for consideration of grant of chartering permissions and amend their own chartering terms, practices and instructions accordingly.

5. This issues with the approval of the Director General of Shipping and Ex-Officio Additional Secretary to the Govt. of India.

(Samuel Darse)
Deputy Director General of Shipping


NO: SD-9/CHRT(82)/97-IV    Dated 13.05.2008

Subject : S.D. Circular No.01 of 2008 - Clarifications regarding

This Directorate has been receiving numerous correspondences seeking clarifications on Shipping Development Circular No. 01 of 2008 dated 25.04.2008 issued by this Directorate regarding revised guidelines for chartering in  of vessels under Section 406 and 407 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. The matter has been examined further and it is clarified as follows:-

1. The said Circular does not apply to Indian Flag Vessels, as they are registered and already licensed to ply in Indian waters.

2. The said Circular applies to all vessels chartered in under Section 406 and 407 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 except vessels already carrying the Indian Flag.

3. The said Circular is applicable from 15th May 2008. It therefore does not affect vessels licensed under section 406 and 407 before 15th May 2008, even, if the existing license overlaps the rough weather period. 

4. Clause 3.1.4 of the said Circular stands amended to read as follows:
 "3.1.4. For time charters of vessels other than passenger vessels, to be entered into with effect from 15th May 2008, which include in the period of charter any period of foul weather, only if the age of the vessel proposed, is less than that specified in Clause 3.1.1, 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 for the respective category of vessel, at the time of termination of the charter period".

5. This issues with the approval of the Director General of Shipping and Ex-Officio Additional Secretary to the Government of India.

(Samuel Darse)
Deputy Director General of Shipping

Moneylife shall file the required RTI applications in these cases.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

More on the mt PAVIT (IMO 9016636)

As quoted in today's Times of India:-

MUMBAI: The drifting of Panama-flagged MT Pavit to the Mumbai coast still remains a mystery but experts in the maritime industry feel the vessel may have been brought close to Mumbai on purpose and set adrift.

Veeresh Malik, expert on shipping and marine security issues, said, "There had to be some sort of intervention to ensure the ship stayed afloat. MT Pavit is not even in decrepit condition. This means the vessel remained afloat by way of tow or because some basic repairs were carried out."

The ship was reported to have sunk after it was abandoned off the Oman coast on June 29. The crew members of the abandoned vessel, which ran aground at Versova beach on July 31, were rescued by a US naval ship and brought to Kandla by Jag Pushpa.

Pointing out that the "winds and currents at this time of the year would not push the ship southwards down from Omani coast" towards India, Malik said, "It should have drifted towards the Gulf of Kutch. The fact that it moved in the direction of Mumbai leads to suspicion that it did get some assistance."

It is implausible that an abandoned vessel can drift for miles without being detected, especially in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. "If a ship is unmanned, then it would not transmit any recognition signals on its AIS (automatic identification signals). However, if a ship transmits its AIS, then somebody has to be tracking its movements. This is the standard operating procedure for owners and insurers."

A member of the ship breakers' association said, "After MT Pavit was abandoned, there were no reports to indicate that its owners/insurers were trying to have it towed or repaired. It is the moral duty of the shipping company to save the life of crew members and salvage the ship."

He said MT Pavit's owners could have easily arranged for it to be towed to the Oman coast for repairs. "It is a mystery why the owner did not do this as the hull of the ship is in good condition and there is nothing to indicate a fuel leak."

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Additional updates on the RAK CARRIER (IMO 8106745)

Lloyds's Class IMO No. 8106745, vessel's previous name SUNNY CARRIER

""Class Withdrawn Owners Request 10th November 2010. TRANSFER OF CLASS OUT TO PANAMA MARITIME SERVICES.""


Rumanian P&I Club, no response, no local rep in Mumbai.


From a television interview, the Romanian Chief Officer claimed that the ship had arrived "off Mumbai" as early as the 12th or 16th of July, and then hung around there, took bunkers and stores, and was awaiting submersible pumps. Master did not apprise port or cargo receivers of the situation, it appears.


A partial list of DGS circulars on the subject. Shall be interesting to know how the file for this ship moved at DGS - if it hasn't gone adrift or worse like the ship itself!!

(This notice only has vanished, it deals with the master regulations to be followed when anybody wants to charter any foreign flag vessel)
reference to above rules
(the less than 25 years circular . . . )
(master page for rules under shipping development . . . )

More article on the subject with some loadport juicy information coming soon . . .

the mystery of the RAK Carrier - where was she for 40 days?

The mystery of the RAK Carrier: Where was she for the past 40 days?
August 04, 2011 03:49 PM
Veeresh Malik
rak carrier
At 8-9 knots, sailing time from Singapore to Mumbai would not exceed 10 days. The RAK Carrier, now sinking off Mumbai, took 40. Where was she in between?

Time was not too long ago, a ship would go adrift or get stranded in and around Mumbai Port about once every two years, and would then become the focus of all discussion at the Seaman's Club. Now it appears to be a weekly affair, like the "specials" on sale in the Irani Hotel next door, and everybody knows that the special is simply what was not moving so had to be flogged.

The RAK Carrier, an Indonesian flag bulk carrier, is one more example.

About 26 years old, with a history as long as that of any history-sheeter, she sailed out of Singapore on or around the 2nd of May 2011, ostensibly towards Indonesia to load coal for Dahej in Gujarat. She then reappeared off Singapore on the 20th of June 2011, ostensibly loaded, and then sat patiently outside Singapore till the 24th of June. She then sailed out towards India through the Malacca Straits, making good about 8-9 knots, giving an ETA (expected time of arrival) Dahej of 7th of July 2011.

So far so good, but then suddenly on the midnight of 24/25 June 2011, all position reporting seems to have stopped from her AIS (Automatic Identification Signal), including most surprisingly no reports when passing Colombo or making landfall off India, until she arrived off the Port of Mumbai almost a month behind schedule. Down by head, and certainly looking like she was about to go under, conveniently near the only port in India where rescue would not be too much of a problem.

For all we know, the Master decided to go on a short tour of the Indian Ocean through most of the month of July 2011, while the cargo receivers in Dahej waited patiently for their coal. Or something happened to the cargo en route, and after that, it became a very brilliant insurance claim. But why does a ship take almost 40 days to come from Singapore to Mumbai, is the question which people should be asking, and also doing a quick check on what's really in those cargo-holds.

Incidentally, the value of the cargo would have been many times the value of the ship, especially in these depressed days. And the coal would find ready buyers anywhere in the world. But that's unfair to the seafarers who probably fought bad monsoon seas before making it to off Mumbai, too.

However, it is not unknown for ships to go elsewhere, offload cargo, fill holds with ballast water, and then go under. Shipping records are full of such cases.

For example, in the days when trade with a particular African country was "banned", ships would often load oil for, say, West Europe. Along the way, the cargo would be quietly unloaded at a port in that African country, and then the ship and ship-owners would go through all sorts of manipulations to close the voyage. In one glorious case, when a particular ship—on her last legs anyway—was going to be scuttled, the ship sent out a sinking signal and asked for help, and the rescuers found everybody dressed in formals with their suitcases neatly packed.

We are not saying that the RAK Carrier is an elaborate insurance scam. Far from it.

We have said it before, and we say it again—it requires a very simple notice to mariners issued by the DG Shipping in Mumbai addressed to all ships globally when they come anywhere near Indian waters—especially those calling Indian ports. All ships coming into Indian territorial waters must establish identity and purposes. All overage ships (those over 15 years old as per marine conventions) must in addition also provide full details of any and every possible issue including cargo, insurance cover, class and adherence to every possible aspect that makes her seaworthy.

Why would the DG Shipping not do it? This is unknown, but in their 'PAVITra WISDOM', maybe they will do it now?

Information Sources:

1) Information on RAK CARRIER movements sourced from:

2) Information on possible insurance issues—sourced from the grapevine.

(PS: In addition, I just saw some TV clips of the sailors from this ship. They seem to be interestingly very calm and collected. In addition, it appears as though they had the time to save and get along stuff like their laptops and stereos as well as all their documents. This is something strange, the Indian authorities need to hold these seafarers and question them to find out what happened).


Originally published at MoneyLife

Monday, 1 August 2011

The mv PAVIT - yet another ship founders off Mumbai, a derelict this time!

The Pavit—yet another attempt to hit Mumbai?
August 01, 2011 03:29 PM | Bookmark and Share
Veeresh Malik
The grounding of the Pavit off the coast of Mumbai cannot be, once again, attributed to bad weather and coincidence. It is amply clear that something is afoot, and that our security agencies are absolutely clueless—despite all the big talk—about what is happening right off our jetties and wharfs. Somebody or something is trying to do more than play marbles or video games with dead ships let loose near the city

What exactly is happening, why and how are derelict ships with suspicious antecedents drifting to Mumbai's shores, so frequently; and more importantly, what can be done about it?

The media is full of reports about how yet another ship is gracing the Mumbai coastline, and reports seem to centre around how a small tanker, the MV Pavit, with a lower freeboard, does not look as impressive as a not-so-large container ship with high cubics and taller freeboard. There is the usual reportage, the expected pass-the-buck kind of response, and the truth of course lies somewhere else. Here are some facts.

# About a month ago, towards the end of June 2011/early July 2011, the Pavit, (IMO number 9016636) with a complement of 13 Indians on board, on a voyage from the Persian Gulf towards Somalia, reported engine trouble and sought assistance after being adrift for three days. Read an account of the rescue operation in the report titled, (Fleet Air Arm helicopter rescues seamen off Oman.)

# The seafarers were transferred to another merchant ship, the Jag Pushpa, and repatriated to India. The Pavit was apparently left to her fate in the waters of the Arabian Sea. There are rumours that the Pavit was acting as a supplier of marine fuel to Somalia to facilitate piracy activity, and that this was one of the reasons why the crew chose to abandon the ship. Why the owner, or the insurers, did not send one of the many ocean-going rescue tugs to tow the ship back is not known.

# The Pavit, in all appearances, is a well-maintained ship. It is not old, either, or decrepit. If an engine failure for three days in mid-ocean meant seafarers started abandoning ships, then probably a large percentage of the world's fleet would have been derelict by now. The simple fact that the Pavit after she was abandoned did not sink, means that there was some intervention by somebody to ensure that she stayed afloat. This was likely by way of a tow as well as some basic minimal repairs in the reported leakage from the stern gland. Incidentally, stern glands leak all the time, and repairing them while at sea is a very normal and fairly simple practice.

# This time of the year, winds and currents do not push ships southwards down from the Omani coast towards India. Quite the opposite, actually, as any basic knowledge of what happens during the south-west monsoon will reveal. Even if it has drifted due to some freak weather, the prevailing tendency would have been to move towards the Gulf of Kutch. To reach without any assistance the coast of Mumbai is absolutely impossible.

# There is no information from the Director General of Shipping on whether an inquiry or investigation was carried out on the Indian crew and complement of the Jag Pushpa as well as the Pavit when they landed in India. There is no information on who the registered agents for the Pavit were, what information they may have provided about the status of the ship after it was abandoned, and most importantly, what attempts were being made, if any, to regain control of the Pavit.

So, what could have been done?

# A dead ship drifting around in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world is certain to have been noticed by a vast variety of ships and reported in. Especially if she was not transmitting any recognition signals on her AIS (automatic identification signals). However, if she was transmitting her AIS, then certainly there was somebody, somewhere who was tracking her as she got closer and closer to the Indian coast; this is standard operating procedure for owners and insurers.

# One of the easiest measures would be for satellite tracking of all ships which are within 12 miles, or even more, of the Indian coast. This data is freely available. The big question is which agency will take this data, analyse it, spot the odd ones out which are not transmitting their AIS signals, or are too close without any business to be there? A proposal that seafarers, who are between exams, to be deputed to handle such information under a Vessel Tracking Scheme has been hanging fire for decades now, as the assorted ministries still try to get their act together.

# Rescue co-ordination, even if done in the Indian Ocean by a British warship, is monitored in India. The Jag Pushpa, by law, is supposed to provide full information on the episode to the Indian authorities. This information then becomes the core of an inquiry and investigation, especially since the seafarers on the Pavit were also Indians, and this could easily have provided ample advance information on the true antecedents of the Pavit as well as the shape of things to come.

Interim, on the basis of educated opinion as well as circumstantial evidence, it can safely be surmised that this ship, also, was somehow brought to within miles of the Mumbai coast and then released. That it landed on the coast of Juhu and not somewhere else, is more a question of nature favouring us again than anything else.