‘Ship that called on ports in China handled as per protocol’

The Panama flagged vessel – RU YI I – that called on ports in China, before it berthed at V O Chidambaranar Port in Tuticorin on February 14, left the port on Sunday. Dispelling rumours of negligence by port officials in handling the ship in the wake of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) scare, port officials said that the ship had completed unloading cargo before sailing to Mumbai.

The vessel had earlier called on four ports in China – Hong Kong (January 13), Xiamen (January 15), Shanghai (January 19) and Taicang (January 28) – before it berthed at Singapore on February 7. The 19 crew members on board included 15 Chinese nationals and four from Myanmar. Rumours of officials allowing them to disembark were doing rounds.

A senior port official said that agents of a ship will share information on various details including the number of crew on board, their nationality and recent ports called on by the vessel when it comes to the port side. “Harboured at the port outer area at 1pm on February 13, it was subjected to tests as per standard operating procedures for ships that had called on China recently nCoV,” the official told said.

Port health officer P Poornima boarded RU YI I and personally conducted necessary tests for the crew and gave the clearance before the ship was allowed to berth at the port on February 14. If there is a slightest symptom of nCoV for anyone on board, the ship will be rejected and not allowed to enter the port. “Even then landing permit is denied to Chinese nationals and foreign nationals who had been to China on the ship,” he said.

Under these circumstances the vessel started unloading 35 windmill towers, blades and accessories on February 15. Of the “1,838 tonnes cargo to be discharged in Tuticorin, 583 tonnes was discharged on the first day and the remaining 1,255 tonnes in the next two days before RU YI I started from the port around 6 am on Sunday,” the official added.