Tuesday Aug 10 2021

Watch: How the cargo ship stuck on Karachi's Seaview beach is being freed

KARACHI: A three-day operation to free a cargo ship stuck on Karachi's Seaview beach for the last 20 days has finally started, Geo News reported Tuesday.

Geo News has obtained exclusive footage of the operation from inside the ship, showing personnel of a ship-breaking company working to push the huge ship back into the sea.

Karachi Port Trust (KPT) officials said the ship has moved several meters into the sea and hopes of freeing it successfully are high.

Anchors have been tied with wires to push the ship into the sea with the help of wrenches fitted at the beach. Tugboats will also be used to nudge the ship free and dredgers will try to clear silt around the ship.

Watch the video to see how the ship is being freed.

How did the ship get stuck on Karachi's beach?

A wheel loader clears the ground near stranded cargo ship MV Heng Tong 77 at Sea View beach in Karachi. Photo: Reuters
A wheel loader clears the ground near stranded cargo ship MV Heng Tong 77 at Sea View beach in Karachi. Photo: Reuters

Panama registered MV Heng Tong 77 was anchored in Pakistan's territorial waters off Karachi for a crew change on July 21 when it lost anchors due to rough seas and drifted towards the shore, the KPT had said.

The ship was en route Istanbul, Turkey from Shanghai, China when it drifted and got stuck in shallow waters sending shockwaves among the port authorities scrambling to avoid an environmental disaster due to an oil spill.

After a strategic and successful de-bunkering operation on July 29 by the Pakistan Navy and other maritime agencies the ship was de-fuelled. The ship was carrying 118 tonnes of bunker fuel.

On July 26, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Maritime Affairs Mehmood Moulvi said that the ship will not be able to refloat before August 15.

Moulvi had said that authorities concerned will have to siphon off the oil from the ship first so that it could be moved.

Replying to a question, the SAPM had said that the port remained closed during the Eid holidays because of which work was halted, adding that when the rescue team initially reached near the ship to help it move, water had already entered the vessel.

Blame game

The captain of the cargo vessel had rejected the statement issued by Federal Minister Ali Zaidi and claimed that he had made an emergency call but the authorities did not provide them with a berth.

Talking to Geo News, Umar, the captain of the cargo vessel, had claimed that he made the SOS call on July 20 when the chain of one of the ship's anchors broke and sank in the sea.

The captain maintained that he had requested the authorities to provide them a berth on an emergency basis as it was very difficult for him to control the vessel with only one anchor.

The second anchor had also been detached from the ship at 1:15 am on the night between July 20 and 21, he said, adding that he made the SOS call at 1:20 am.

He said that the authorities at Port Muhammad Bin Qasim and Manora were also hearing the emergency call but the KPT control room did not provide them any help.

The captain had said that he had been told the concerned officers were in an important meeting.

He said that all the communication data was saved with them.

Audio recording reveals convo

Geo News had also obtained the audio recording of the conversation between the captain and the control tower. In the audiotape, the captain can be heard seeking help from the authorities.

“MV Heng Tong is contacting the Muhammad Bin Qasim port’s control on channel 16,” the captain had sent the message thrice.

Meanwhile, the authorities had directed the captain to contact on channel 10 but the captain did not get any response when he contacted channel 10.

After few minutes, the record shows, the captain decided to seek help from Karachi Manora control and said, “our ship is heading towards the shore and it may ground.”

The captain again asked,“ Have you heard my message?”

“Sorry we cannot help you,” the control tower had replied, as per the recording.