The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 8 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Port out of bounds for vessels

Vessel movement to and from the port was stalled on Tuesday as a stranded cargo ship kept drifting towards the interior of the navigation channel 50km downstream despite attempts to tug it towards a bank.

The port authorities have identified a new track in the channel through which vessels are expected to sail from Wednesday.

“No ship could enter or leave the port today as the stranded vessel, Tiger Spring, has drifted to the middle of the 225m-wide channel. We hope the movement will resume from tomorrow,” a port trust official said on Tuesday.

Two ships at the port deferred their departure during the day while five inbound vessels had to anchor at the Sandheads, 232km from the city.

On Wednesday, five cargo vessels are scheduled to arrive and as many leave the port.

Ship movement along the channel took a hit on Monday, too, though vessels with lighter cargo could operate.

Tiger Spring, which has been stranded at Hooghly Point since colliding with another container on November 23, started drifting towards the middle of the channel on Sunday.

“The ship, anchored close to the eastern bank of the channel, is drifting towards the middle because of strong tides that are common during this time of the year,” said an official of the port.

Excessive siltation has compounded the problem, reducing the depth of the channel to 1.7-2.6 metres against the usual range of 3-4 metres.

Three days ago, a barge had run aground at the point because of siltation.

“The new track that has been opened will have the adequate depth for heavy vessels to sail along,” the official said.

The port trust authorities had on Monday started dredging the channel on “a war footing” but abandoned all hopes of salvaging the existing track after Tuesday’s development.

Tiger Spring, which was moving out of Calcutta port, had developed a snag and collided with Green Valley that was sailing towards the port.

Green Valley was taken to Diamond Harbour for repairs but Tiger Spring had to be anchored at Hooghly Point because of the extensive damage it had suffered in the collision.

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