MV Asian Express, the Maldivian-flagged merchant vessel that sank off Lakshadweep island the other day, was reportedly on its last voyage. The 35-year-old vessel, owned by Lily Enterprises Pvt Ltd, Male, was carrying 4,000 tonnes of cement and 2,400 tonnes of sand when it developed some technical snag and went adrift. On the completion of the voyage, the vessel was to be scrapped, sources said. There are reports that the vessel developed engine trouble due to use of contaminated oil, filled from the last port. Master of the vessel Captain Ahmed Shakir told ‘Express’ that it was up to the shipowners’ discretion to decide on whether it should be scrapp ed or operated one more time. “The ship developed unexpected engine trouble on June 10. We first informed the owner. Later, we alerted the Maritime Rescue Centre. For two days we were in deep trouble. As per the original schedule, we were supposed to reach Maldives by June 10,” Shakir said. The vessel had a 22-member crew, including 18 natives of Maldives and four Indians -- seaman Rajesh Kumar (Jammu & Kashmir), deck cadet Pankaj Kumar (Himachal Pradesh), seaman Naveen Kumar (Himachal Pradesh) and oiler Gurmeender Singh (Punjab). Coast Guard officials said the proceedings for taking them to Maldives had begun. “We have already informed the Maldives High Commission through the Coast Guard Headquarters. On completion of the official proceedings, the crew will be taken to Maldives,” said DIG T K Satish Chandran, Commander, Coast Guard (Kerala). The Male-bound vessel sank after developing engine trouble off the Laksahdweep island on Thursday morning. Coast Guard vessel ICGS Varuna, captained by Commander K M Arun Kumar, had rescued the entire crew on Wednesday night itself. The crew members were brought to Kochi a day after the mishap.