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Stranded ship begins to refloat, faces new dilemma

Govt says won’t allow the vessel to leave before paying

SAMAA | - Posted: Aug 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 months ago
Posted: Aug 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 months ago

The Karachi port officials have succeeded in the first part of an operation to refloat a ship that ran aground at Karachi’s Seaview Beach 33 days ago. The stranded ship, Heng Tong 77, will be moved to deeper waters by Tuesday. However, it now faces a new dilemma: the Pakistani government has said that the ship would not be allowed to leave unless it pays the expenses incurred on the rescue and obtains a seaworthiness certificate.

Heng Tong 77 ship was en route to Istanbul from China when it drifted and run aground near the beach on July 18. The 98 meters (322 feet) long ship carried cargo and it had stopped at Karachi to change crew.

Since the ship was stranded in too shallow waters, it was not possible to run its engines, which implied it had to rely on external power to move. Consequently, several rescue attempts failed.

On Monday, the authorities launched a new operation. A tugboat and a crane pulled the ship away from the shore.  “The vessel moved as much as 100 metres and will be moved another 150 meters by tomorrow (Tuesday),” shipping agent Captain Asim told journalists.

“Both engines are running now and the propellers are perfectly operable,” he said adding that from Tuesday the ship will be pulled only by tugboats.

The ship will be able to sail independently once it is at least 600 meters back into the sea.

New Dilemma

As soon as the ship began to refloat, Prime Minister’s Advisor at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs Mahmood Maulvi arrived at the beach and announced that the ship would not be allowed to depart from Karachi unless it paid all the charges and obtained the seaworthiness certificate.

On August 11, the ministry of Maritime affairs issued an order to detain the ship because it had been declared “unseaworthy” and a risk to Karachi.

Mahmood Maulvi said on Monday that the operation to salvage the ship had been completed but the vessel was under government detention and would be made to pay all the charges and seek clearance from the mercantile department.

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