MSC updates Mumbai collision situation
Liner carrier Mediterranean Shipping Co. said last week that 314 containers have been recovered from the collision of one of its vessels with a bulk cargo ship off the coast of Mumbai in early August.
The bulk carrier Khalijia 3 collided with the 2,314-TEU MSC Chitra in a navigation channel outside Mumbai's Jawaharlal Nehru/Nhava Sheva port complex Aug. 7, an accident pinned on the bulk carrier by India's shipping ministry.
In a customer notice Nov. 16, MSC said 280 of the 314 salvaged containers have been landed while the remainder await customs permission to be landed.
'Severe delays have been experienced landing the recovered containers ashore,' MSC said. 'This is due to a combination of customs delays, port congestion, and commercial issues arising because the damaged containers cannot be handled normally and each container requires significant berth time and space (sometimes up to 12 hours each). MSC has searched for and found some disused berths in the port area and has obtained permission to reactivate these to land damaged containers. This work has commenced but, in the meantime, the damaged containers are stored on barges.'
MSC said conditions on the vessel 'continue to be very difficult, with a continuous evolution of high levels of toxic gas from cargo and now also hydrogen sulphide from deteriorating cargo. The gases have severely restricted container recovery, sometimes to as little as one or two containers per day. This is because now that the monsoon has passed there was often no wind to clear the gases and the crane barge had to be pulled away from the casualty when the gas levels were unsafe for personnel.'
The estimated 596 containers remaining on board (as of Nov. 16) are fully submerged, with many damaged by monsoon seas and others deformed by the expansion of wetted cargo from inside. That has made lifting them out in one piece extremely difficult and sometimes impossible, MSC said.
'Consequently, to have the best opportunity of recovering salvageable cargo the decision has been taken to raise the vessel with the remaining containers and cargo on board, during which operation the holds will be pumped out,' the notice said. 'With dry holds and drained containers a much better success rate is hoped for to bring the remaining containers and cargo out in one piece — if the container has not been damaged. Container and recovery operations have now ceased until the vessel has been raised.
'MSC is committed to doing business in India and has already expended tens of millions of U.S. dollars on this operation,' the line added. 'The circumstances continue to be difficult.'
A list of containers salvaged and available for survey will be published and updated regularly on MSC surveyors' Web site. Login is 'MSC' and the password is 'containers'.