Port Blair, June 25: In a swift response and deftly coordinated SAR operation, Indian Coast Guard rescued 09 crew from sinking vessel Ganga-I off Cinque Island on 23 Jun. The Search and Rescue (SAR) operation was carried out in coordination with Port Management Board (PMB), Port Blair wherein ICG ships and PMB Tug ‘Ocean Marvel’ were deployed for SAR response. 

On 23 Jun, Indian Coast Guard received a distress alert from Tug Ganga-I in approx. position 30 Nm South East of Port Blair. As per the information available from sources, the Tug with 09 crew had left Port Blair at 1340 hrs on 22 Jun with a barge, loaded with construction material, under tow. The vessel was scheduled to arrive Hutbay at 0600 hrs on 23 Jun. However, the vessel crew observed heavy flooding in engine room en-route Hutbay and activated distress in the morning on 23 Jun to alert the authorities. Due to uncontrolled flooding, the crew had abandoned the Tug and took shelter onboard barge for safety.

Indian Coast Guard immediately launched multifarious swift rescue mission. The information was shared with PMB, MMD and civil administration at Port Blair. CG Ships ICGS C-146 and ICGS C-412 on routine deployment were immediately diverted for assistance. CG ship ICGS Durgabai Deshmukh and PMB Tug ‘Ocean Marvel’ were sailed from Port Blair with damage control team and de-flooding equipment embarked for immediate assistance.

The crew of distress vessel are reported to be safe. However, one crew has sustained leg injury and was successfully evacuated by Coast Guard Ship C-146. The crew was brought to Port Blair and has been shifted to GB Pant hospital for further medical management.

ICG ships arrived in area and attempted to save the sinking vessel using external de-flooding arrangement. The distress vessel was dangerously listed to port and trim by aft due to complete flooding of engine room/ aft section of the vessel. The damage control team faced difficulty in positioning de-flooding equipment on distress vessel owing to continuous/ high rate of flooding and heavy rolling of the vessel due to very rough sea conditions. Further, embarkation of damage control team onboard sinking vessel was not considered safe owing to risk involved and danger to the safety of life of personnel engaged in rescue.

In an attempt to save the vessel, PMB Tug Ocean Marvel connected the tow rope and commenced towing to bring the distress vessel to Port Blair with ICG ships as escort. Despite all out efforts to save the vessel, the distress vessel sank off Cinque Island with depth in area more than 1500 Mtrs. All crew of distress vessel were embarked onboard Tug Ocean Marvel and safely brought to Port Blair late night   23 Jun. 

As part of its charter of duties, the Indian Coast Guard undertakes Maritime Search and Rescue operations frequently. This operation again reflects the commitment of Indian Coast Guard towards safeguarding precious lives at sea against all odds. The instant case also highlights the effective coordination between the agencies which resulted in saving 09 precious lives at sea amidst very rough and severe sea conditions.