Mumbai: Bad weather spells doom for Bandra's Ark Deck Bar salvage operations

Updated: Jun 08, 2018, 07:42 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Very first spell of rains brings work to a standstill; the salvers are concerned that the vessel may drift away

Mumbai: Bad weather spells doom for Bandra's Ark Deck Bar salvage operations
Divers managed to plug a hole in the vessel with metal plates and rubber strips

Salvage operations of the floating restaurant, Ark Deck Bar, which capsized off the coast near Bandra on May 25, will be impacted owing to the rough sea and high sea currents. Adding to the complications is the recent alert by the Regional Meteorological Centre that has issued warnings of intense rainfall over the coast starting June 7.

The furniture, fixtures and electronic items on the vessels are already damaged due to the prolonged time in saline water. Shipping experts had cautioned that the salvage should be completed before the onset of monsoon, and that the situation might worsen once the monsoon begins. Mehernosh Shroff, of Seaworthy Shipping Services, who had spoken to representatives of Ark Deck earlier, said, "I do not understand the reason for delaying salvage operations of the vessel. The situation will only worsen in the coming days and I have seen for myself in Khandala, Gujarat, in 2001 how sunken/floating vessels got taken to great distances due to sea currents and high tides."

The flooded interiors of the ship
The flooded interiors of the ship

Vikram Kumar, chief executive officer, Maharashtra Maritime Board, told mid-day, "We have been informed that the salvage operators [Smit and their Indian partners Vishwakarma] have fixed a few holes to keep the water out of the submerged vessel. However, it will be difficult to say how many days it will take for the vessel to float again. The water inside the vessel has to be pumped out, too. Once floated, it will be taken to Ferry Wharf or some close point for anchoring during the monsoon. A fresh inspection will be conducted to ascertain if the vessel is fit for sailing."

When asked how long the salvage work would take, Kumar clarified, "It will be difficult to say how long. All I can confirm is that work will go on even during the monsoon, but the salvage operations will definitely get hampered if there is heavy rain, high tide or even high sea currents." Another officer, who did not wish to be identified, said, "The delay in salvage operations was because the salvage company was into negotiations with the vessel owners and so far the divers have only managed to patch a few holes."

Ark Deck Bar capsized off the coast at Bandra on May 25. Pic/Shadab Khan
Ark Deck Bar capsized off the coast at Bandra on May 25. Pic/Shadab Khan

When asked about the fear of the vessel changing location in bad weather, the officer said, "The area where the vessel is at present gets a high tide of 5.5 feet to 6 feet. Also, sand has entered the vessel, making its movement difficult due to the weight. Right now, no salvage team will take the risk of operating in bad weather."

Insurance conspiracy?
Shipping experts said, "There may be a deliberate attempt made to delay the salvage process as the owners can still seek complete insurance loss. It will be too expensive and time consuming to get the vessel back in operation. Post monsoon, the boat will be resurveyed and Maritime Board will inspect it and issue fitness certification, if at all they find it fit for sailing again. This usually comes with a lot of conditions and changes. Also, as furniture/fixtures and the entire electronics system inside are damaged, it will be very expensive to replace. And, the million dollar questions here are who will bear the cost of repair and whether the Ark Deck tenants want to wait that long."

May 25
The day the vessel capsized off Bandra coast

Also Read: Mumbai: Sunken Boat On Which Ark Deck Bar Operated Was Insured For Rs 3.65 Crore

Ark Deck owners say
Advocate Manoj Mirchandani, counsel for Harmeet Sawhney and Samyukta Singh, owners of Ark Deck Bar, said, "With weather warnings about heavy to very heavy rainfall in the coming days, it is evident that nothing can be done to salvage the vessel right now. My clients are concerned about the future of the vessel, as we know that even if it is floated again and anchored throughout the monsoon, it will be a long while before we even know if the vessel can be made seaworthy. All this will require a lot of time and money. We will wait and watch. My clients are sure that they may not be interested in losing out during season time and may be keen on opting for a new vessel instead of waiting for the ill-fated vessel to be resurrected."

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