Mumbai: Did sunken floatel, Ark Deck flout safety norms?

Jun 10, 2018, 11:23 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Inquiries reveal chief navigator was unqualified and was seaborne despite pre-monsoon diktat to anchor by May 25

Mumbai: Did sunken floatel, Ark Deck flout safety norms?
Ark Deck Bar capsized off the coast at Bandra on May 28. Pic/Shadab Khan

Ark Deck's troubles only seem to be worsening. Inquires have revealed that the floatel neither had the mandatory Navigational Watch-Keeping Officer (NWO) nor a special sailing master (second mate) trained in coastal sailing. Inquires also revealed that the vessel had been changing both name and owner since 2006, leading shipping experts to aver that it may have been a deliberate attempt to mislead authorities.

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

Insiders have revealed that the person navigating Ark Deck was Irfan Shirgaonkar, 39, who has a first class master licence. A shipping expert, who did not wish to be named, said, "Irfan is known to be good at his job, but does not possess a second mate licence [mandatory for sailing large boats]. A series of questions have been raised [see Some Questions]."

Prima facie, the spot where the incident happened and the statement that Irfan has given to the Maharashtra Maritime Board inquiry team, reveals that the vessel drifted/was taken to a shallow, rocky spot, which could be due to human error. Also, despite boats being ordered off the seas by May 25, Ark Deck continued to be seaborne. Irfan claimed he was about to head for anchoring at Ferry Wharf when the accident happened.

Divers managed to plug a hole in the vessel with metal plates and rubber strips"
Divers managed to plug a hole in the vessel with metal plates and rubber strips

Vikram Kumar, CEO, Maharashtra Maritime Board, who took charge a few months ago, said, "I am told that Ark Deck Bar had the required licence to operate, which means all parameters were looked into by the Maritime Board. The Chief Port Officer inquiry is underway. We are waiting for the vessel to be salvaged to find out if human error or nature was to blame."

When asked about the safety lapses, if any, during issuing licence, Kumar said, "We will be probing the case from all angles and will go to the depth of the matter."

Also read: Mumbai: Sunken Ark Deck floatel's owners looking for a new boat

Some questions
* Was the first class master on board competent to work on Ark Deck? Also, was the crew trained to tackle emergencies?
* Can the survey certificate issued in Nov 2017 by the Maritime Board be made public, naming the official who conducted the survey?
* When the boat entered shallow waters, why was the assistance of a tugboat not taken, as Ark Deck had not been fitted with a bow thruster?

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