While the High Court has taken a serious note of the grounding of the vessel Lucky 7 and instructed that the vessel be refloated immediately, the owners of the vessel and the Goa government seem to be concealing facts from the Court time and again.
Recently the High Court said that till the time the owners do not refloat the vessel, they will not hear the case – regarding granting the vessel a casino license – any further.
The Goa Advocate General (AG) told the HC that one of the specific conditions which was required to permit the owner- petitioner to bring the vessel in was that three tugs had to be provided by the company to accompany the ship into the Mandovi.
The AG said that no third tug was kept in place which led to the drifting of the vessel on account of bad weather.
However, both the AG acting on behalf of the government and the owners of the vessel as well as the CoP failed to inform the HC that the vessel cannot be repaired or re-floated as it is completely beyond repair. All three parties should have clearly told the court that the vessel would have to be cut up and dismantled on the beach itself as repairs are almost impossible now, opine experts who spoke to IndiaScribes.com’s editor Flynn Remedios, adding that the ship was completely non-seaworthy from day one, even when it was being towed into the Mandovi.
The CoP and salvage experts both from Mumbai and Goa are well aware that the vessel is beyond repair – at least on the Miramar beach. Even if it could be repaired and refloated, which is very unlikely, the ship would not be able to avail of insurance and other facilities as it is over 35 years of age. Such vessels must be below 30 years to avail of insurance, say experts. If this is the case, why aren’t they all telling this to the HC?
Ship insurance experts have confirmed to IndiaScribes.com that a vessel in the class as that of Lucky 7 which was over 35 years old would not be given insurance cover.
If that is the case, then what was the logic of the owners of Lucky 7 in approaching the HC in the first place.
How could the ship operate as a Casino vessel without insurance cover? Did the owners expect the CoP to overlook this fact and grant the vessel operational licenses? Were they so sure of “managing everyone in Goa”?
Why was the HC not informed in the first instance itself by the Goa govt and the CoP that the ship was over age and beyond its safe use period? Why was this fact withheld from the HC? Was the CoP not aware of this fact right at the start?
According to experts:
The ship’s bottom was completely rusted, its machines non-functional and other equipment non working. Yet, such a rusted, non-working, corroded piece of scrap, way beyond its permissible life for use on the seas was masquerading as a casino vessel before the HC and was brought into the Mandovi. Is the HC blind, or is the HC also playing a ‘game’ along with the government, the CoP and the owners of the vessel?
Sea water has completed destroyed the machinery in the last 15 days and the machines are beyond repair. So many cracks and holes have developed in the ship’s hull that repair is simply not possible on the Miramar beach.
According to a Times of India report, with chances of on site repair to refloat the grounded vessel, M V Lucky Seven, for towing away becoming difficult, authorities are trying to avoid the hard option of cutting up the leaking ship on the beach.
A Mumbai-based ship-breaking firm requisitioned for salvage has been asked to exit from the site and a local salvage firm, Madgavkar Salvage has been requested to submit a bid to retrieve and tow the vessel to a ship-repair yard in a nearby Maharashtra port, reports TOI.
The vessel has listed on its aft side, as massive water and sand influx through a large crack of more than 10m till the deck level, is pulling it down.
In a meeting called by the ports administration, the issue of refloating and towing it was discussed in the presence of a representative of the hotel company, Golden Globe Pvt Ltd, which owns the vessel, and the salvage firm.
Anand Madgavkar of Madgavkar Salvage confirmed that his firm had been invited to quote for the salvaging task. “We have told them that we will wait to see the conditions till September or in fair weather, as it is risky at this stage,” Madgavkar said according to TOI.
Further, Madgavkar said that the vessel should be extricated from the site in one piece to ensure safety of people using the Miramar beach. “It should be floated out in totality and not cut like River Princess at Candolim, as pieces remaining in the sand will make it unsafe for swimmers, tourists and locals,” he said, reports TOI.
According to The Navhind Times, it has been found that the grounded casino vessel is unseaworthy and the vessel promoters failed to comply with the required parameters for fitness certificate to make sure it is compatible in water.
Highly-placed sources at the Captain of Ports revealed that the 75-metre-long vessel that ran aground on a sandbar at the Miramar beach and sunk on one side, did not possess the mandatory fitness certificate issued as per the Inland Vessels Act, 1917.
Speaking to The Navhind Times on conditions of anonymity, a senior expert said the vessel is well over 35 years old and highly unsafe to float on water.
But the owners pushed the vessel into service, bypassing certain key safety regulations, he said clarifying that the vessel is uninsurable as the company has failed to comply with the fitness parameters.
Experts said the age of the vessel should be between 21 and 30 years at the maximum, which is the age limit for restricting entry of ships.
But the MV Lucky 7 is over 35 years old, which makes it highly unsafe and unseaworthy.
The Gopal Kanda-owned Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd paid around Rs 60 crore in fees for the period of five years to the state government.
But no permission from the Captain of Ports was granted.
“Proper vessel maintenance, repair and operations are critical components to keeping vessels shipshape.
However, the MV Lucky Seven has been unseaworthy and the owners were informed about the same. Unless they comply with the required parameters and observations made during fitness inspection the vessel will not be permitted to be taken out of the water,” the Captain of Ports official said.
Hence officials have suggested dismantling and cutting up the ship on the spot since the vessel bottom is badly damaged and refurbishing would not guarantee its sinking in the middle of the sea.
According to the rules, a vessel must undergo annual, intermediate and special surveys, and dry dockings.
In lieu of a special survey, a vessel’s machinery may be on a continuous survey cycle under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period.
Every vessel is also required to be dry docked every two to three years for inspection of the underwater parts of such vessel.
There are currently five offshore casinos in the Mandovi. These vessels are given temporary NOCs for plying which are issued and renewed annually. The vessels are issued yearly fitness certificate and also undergoes dry docking every two years, reports NT.
The Casino Pride vessel was built in 1994 while 2848-gross tonne Casino Royale was built in 2008. The oldest vessel is MV Boa Sorte which was built in 1991. MV Horseshoe and Floatel were newly introduced, reports NT.
According to another media report, CoP sources revealed that the tugboat brought by the Mumbai firm Arihant Ship Breakers to tow the vessel out of the Miramar beach was a damaged one. “The tugboat was on its way to a dockyard in Sri Lanka for repairs but Arihant diverted it to Goa for the salvage operation. The boat was itself in need of repairs. It’s one engine was not operational,” said the source.
The Captain of Ports department pulled up the company for unnecessarily wasting time. The delay in towing the vessel has resulted in further damage. New cracks are developing and widening, flooding the bottom portion of the vessel with water.