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‘Unfit’ ship refused entry into Porbandar port now


In severe cyclonic condition and rough sea, a ship declared unfit to undertake sea journey s asked to leave a port. When situation normalizes, the same vessel again becomes ‘unseaworthy’ and is not allowed to berth.

This is exactly the story of MV Omkara Prem, the dredger, which was grounded at Porbandar port after the Jamnagar marine mercantile department (MMD) found it unseaworthy.

Sailing near Rozi port in Gulf of Kutch after being forced out from Porbandar due to cyclone Vayu since June 14, the Mercatorowned ship has now been denied permission to anchor near Porbandar.

Ship captain Karuna Shankar, who had abandoned the ship, sailed it to Rozi port near Jamnagar into the sheltered water as advised by port authorities. Shankar’s wife Bhargavi has filed a habeas corpus petition in Gujarat high court alleging illegal confinement of her husband along with 32 crew members and demanded that he be produced before the court. The petition is expected to come for hearing on July 10.

Aakash Varma, a former merchant navy officer who is helping the crew and his family in legal fight alleged, “The crew didn’t get port clearance from Porbandar. The port authority, MMD and the shipping company are forcing ship not to anchor to the port because they want to avoid the production of the captain into the port.”

The surveyor in charge of Jamnagar MMD in his mail on July 4 said, “The vessel is unseaworthy and special permission was granted to leave Porbandar port for safe haven due to very severe cyclone ‘Vayu’ in special circumstances. Since the vessel is anchored at Rozi port area, all the provisions of detention order issued by this department is applicable for Rozi port.”

When contacted the Porbandar port officer, Arvind Mishra, said “The ship has left the Rozi port violating the instructions of Jamnagar port officer, MMD and Vessel Traffic System. If they will try to enter the Porbadar port, it would be unauthorized. I have made alerted by concerned officers including security agency and DG Shipping about the possibility of a forced entry.”

The vessel is awaiting financial relief and repartition of the crew by local agents of Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Club agents.

“The port authorities also specified in the written agreement that vessel was to return to Porbandar. If the ship was unseaworthy, why did the port authority risk lives of 32 crew members during severe cyclonic condition?,” Varma asked.