The 75-metre long offshore casino vessel MV Lucky Seven, which got grounded on the Miramar beach a month ago, has now developed a 12-metre deep crack at its bottom.
The engine room, located below the main deck and below the water line, is filled with seawater. The two propellers have broken down and are stuck in sand. The tanks of the vessel are flooded with water as a result of which the vessel is sinking on one side.
In fact, sources suggest that the vessel is likely to remain grounded there till September and with the state’s record of not being able to remove grounded ships from the coastline, this could well be a repetition of the story of River Princess, which was an eyesore for people.
Since the casino vessel is damaged at the bottom, it has to be first refurbished and it will have to remain grounded for at least a month due to unfavourable weather conditions, which would make towing the vessel highly dangerous. However, experts have suggested dismantling of the vessel on the spot. But environmentalists fear that it could prove hazardous. Grave concerns have been raised in the past over health and environmental hazards caused due to dismantling of wreckage of MV River Princess, a 26-metre-long cargo ship.
Arihant Ship Breakers is no longer involved in towing the vessel to the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) jurisdiction and now Madgaonkar Salvage has been asked by the owner of the vessel to present its quotation to pull the vessel to Jaigad dockyard in Ratnagiri district.
Anand Madgaonkar, an expert salvager, confirmed this news and said, “We have received a letter from the owner to send the quotation. We have to assess the damage to check if it is possible to refloat the vessel and tow it to Jaigad. However, if there is considerable damage to the vessel, it might have to be completely dismantled on the spot,” he said.
Sources have, however, confirmed that the Arihant Ship Breaker team’s attempt to refloat the vessel using various techniques during high tide was successful after they repaired the gaping cracks, which were up to six metres in length. However, the vessel owner wanted to take it to the River Mandovi and as the authority did not allow it, the vessel was kept grounded.
Passing orders to effect the removal of the grounded vessel completely, District Magistrate Nila Mohanan, last week, took a decision asking the owner of MV Lucky Seven vessel, Gopal Kanda, to remove it within 30 days. However, the notice has not been issued yet.
Former National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) scientist Antonio Mascarenhas said that if the vessel is not removed, the sand dune erosion is likely to increase by 70 metres towards the Caranzalem side with large sand deposition towards Miramar side and if this continues, it will affect navigation. He, however, ruled out any damage to marine life, as there was no oil spillage. He said that the beach is roughly estimated to have been eroded by two metres after the vessel was grounded at the beach but he warned against large beach erosion if the rain activity continues. The major damage is likely to be witnessed in the next two days, as the highest tide of more than two metres is expected over the next two days.
Suggesting dismantling of the vessel on the spot, as towing away the sinking vessel will be dangerous, Mascarenhas said that the “the vessel was parallel when it first got grounded off the beach.” “Then it came almost perpendicular and now it has turned 180 degrees and sunk on one side. It is obvious that it has developed a crack and in my opinion, it has to be dismantled on the spot,” he said.