Naval ship responsible for Vindhyagiri collision
The Indian Navy, perhaps, has its own ships and the Mumbai Port Trust to blame for Sunday’s collision that sank its frigate INS Vindhyagiri. Investigations into the collision have revealed that it was not MV Sea Eagle that created the communication confusion leading to the collision, but INS Godavari, which was part of the naval fleet returning to naval dockyard on Sunday.
A convoy of naval ships, in which INS Vindhyagiri was at the fifth spot, was coming towards the naval dockyard in the same channel, which is 400 metres wide. Because of the nature of the channel, where ships might have to cross each other’s path as the Naval Dockyard is on the other side of JNPT, communication between inbound and outbound ships is very important.
Sources said, the lead ship in the naval convoy established a communication with Nordlake and it was decided that both would go to the right of each other.
The ships behind the lead ship had to follow its course. However, one of these ships, INS Godavari, at the fourth spot, had fallen off the convoy formation because of slow speed. INS Godavari, failing to catch up with rest of the convoy, established its own communication with Nordlake, asking it to pass left-to-left (which means both ships would pass to the left of each other). “This created a major confusion as rest of the convoy was passing right-to-right,” said an officer investigating the case.
To give space to INS Godavari to pass to the left of itself, Nordlake turned right. Meanwhile, another inbound merchant ship MV Sea Eagle, which was moving towards JNPT and was ahead of Vindhyagiri had come parallel to the latter because of decreased speed on port approach.
At this juncture, both Nordlake and Sea Eagle were facing each other and thus established quick communication. Both communicated thrice about whether to pass through the right of each other or to the left, finally deciding to pass through the right. As soon as Nordlake crossed Sea Eagle - it missed crashing into it by 20 m - it found INS Vindhyagiri right ahead.
Vindhyagiri, which was behind Godavari in the convoy, had held its course and was following the understanding reached by the lead ship.
By now, it was too late to manoeuvre the ship and Nordlake crashed on the right side of Vindhyagiri at a right angle, leading to a fire in the ship’s boiler room.
“Another reason for the crash was that Nordlake was at high speed since it was going to open sea and Vindhyagiri was at slow speed as it was moving to port,” said an officer from Yellow Gate Police Station.