VIZHINJAM: The small port at Vizhinjam is not equipped with a tugboat, a fact which put considerable pressure on the Coast Guard following Thursday’s crisis involving cargo vessel MV Minnath.
After the leak on the cargo vessel’s hull was plugged, there was no way to tow it back to port. The ship was in not state to sail back, and the shipping agent had informed the Coast Guard of his helplessness on the question of a tug, according to Coast Guard officials.
With no way out, a Coast Guard ship finally towed the ship back to Vizhinjam, a distance of about seven nautical miles. ‘’We took a tremendous risk,’’ Coast Guard Commander (Kerala and Mahe) T K S Chandran said. ‘’The Coast Guard vessel which towed it was just a 100-tonne vessel made of fibreglass. It towed a 259-tonne cargo vessel,’’ he said. Vizhinjam port, which is one of the numerous minor ports dotting the Kerala coastline, has only a patrol tug, but no tugboats which are used in ports to manoeuvre ships by towing or pushing. ‘’Not much shipping activity takes place here. Only Kollam has one (among the minor ports),’’ a Port official said.