Strong winds, waves hinder salvage operation of Heng Tong 77 thumbnail

Strong winds, waves hinder salvage operation of Heng Tong 77

The operation to salvage the run aground ship Heng Tong 77 at Sea View Beach in Karachi has been postponed till Thursday.

The weather has become a major obstacle in rescuing the stranded ship. The re-floating operation faced resistance from strong winds 20 nautical miles per hour and high waves.

Arif Sheikh, a representative of Sea Max Company, said that a sling from the ship has been tied to the tugboat and if it is difficult to tie the ship to the crane boat, they will try to pull it with the tugboat only.

Earlier, officials had completed the first part of an operation to refloat a ship and it was expected to move onto deeper waters by today. But on Teusday the ship drifted back to the shore.

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.

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 on Monday, 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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