Kochi: Timely action by the Coast Guard has averted a major environmental disaster as a result of possible oil spill from a damaged merchant vessel off the coast of Kochi.
Coast Guards Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) Samar on Saturday morning fixed a crack through which seawater was flooding the tanks of the rusty Panama-flagged cargo carrier Andrian-III, which was anchored eight nautical miles off Kochi while on voyage from Indonesia to Iran with a cargo of 110 kilo litres of oil. The force has now asked the Cochin Port Trust and the Mercantile Marine Department to carry out �port state control inspection of the vessel to rule out any possibility of it sinking within the port limits as also to see if it can be safely brought to the harbour here for repairs.
B.K. Loshali, Deputy Inspector-General of Coast Guard District Headquarters No.4, said the Cochin Port Control on Friday evening informed the Coast Guard of a 50 metre-long vessel at anchorage 11 nautical miles off Kochi as its Captain � Iranian national Mohammed Kalabi Zadeh � and a seven-member Indonesian crew had been without food and water for four days.
�We immediately launched an interceptor boat, C-134, for investigation but turbulent seas forced it to return. Our AOPV Samar, which was on patrol in Lakshadweep, about 120 nautical miles away, was also diverted to render assistance to the vessel, Mr. Loshali said.