The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) has started the recovery efforts for the fallen containers that were hurled into the sea on 19th of March when two container ships collided at South Asia Pakistan Terminals (SAPT), local sources report.
Around 19 containers fell into the sea after incoming vessel ‘Tolten’ of maritime shipping company Hapag Lloyd, in the process of taking alongside berth (laymen terms: Parallel parking) at the SAPT collided with a stationary ship ‘Hamburg Bay’. The collision caused damage to both the vessels. Reports said that ‘Tolten’ hull was extensively damaged at the front, adding that PN&I Club had conducted a survey for insurance claims and determining the factors leading to the mishap.
According to reports, during the process of berthing pilots have to look at weather conditions and winds but it seems that an unhappy combination of factors resulted in this incident. The incident took place between 2.30pm and 3 pm when the ship was being mastered by a Karachi Port Trust (KPT) pilot for giving the alongside berth. As a result of the incident, around 19 containers on board the ship fell into the sea.
Under the international practice, the pilot remains on board till such time the ship becomes stationary and is fastened to the berth. In this case, also the KPT pilot was handling the incoming vessel for berthing but unfortunately, due to some human error or weather conditions, the ship collided with the other vessel which was ready to sail out after loading its cargo at berth No 3, reports quote.
The movement of the ships at South Asia Pakistan container terminal had been suspended after the incident.
According to a local publication, KPT authorities have deployed floating crane ‘Hati’ for the efforts and also sought assistance from the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works and Pakistan Navy. The containers are said to have sunk to the port’s basin as well in the approach channel of the terminal. They are hazardous for the movement of incoming and outgoing vessels. The Karachi port also sought help from Port Qasim and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation.
KPT Chairman Rear Admiral Jamil Akhtar along with General Manager Operations Rear Admiral Asif Hameed visited the incident site and instructed his staff for a swift recovery.
Port and shipping experts were of the view that the approach of the incoming vessel handled by a KPT pilot was very narrow and this could because of a miscalculation on the part of the pilot which resulted in the collision of the two ships. They said both the vessels could not be moved out till the time the operation in the basin area and the approach channel was completed.
Senior KPT officials were reportedly reprimanded over the incident in a meeting presided over by Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Senator Hasil Khan Binzenjo.
A mere few days ago, Karachi Port Trust Pilots went on strike to demand a salary raise. Media reports quoted that these pilots had called off the strikes after reaching a consensus with KPT authorities. A local publication quoted a source stating that the issue had in fact, not been resolved as of yet.