Monday, March 5, 2012

COVER STORY MV Campbell Bay: Will Sail, Won't Sail



MV Campbell Bay:
Will Sail, Won't Sail

A ship is safe in harbour, but it is not meant for that purpose… People have started betting on whether MV Campbell Bay will be returned to the builder or will sail very soon, or will remain a guest on different wharves for a couple of months and later tethered somewhere for good.

By Zubair Ahmed

Nobody can blame the Islanders for imagining the wildest of wild rumours or assumptions about a ship which has not been put to service even after 4 months of its arrival. They are now used to such phenomenon after they experienced MV Chuglum, MV Afra Bay and MV Karmatang.
Who is to blame for such conundrums? Andaman and Nicobar Admn after Cabinet approval plans to acquire a vessel in 2003, an organisation named NSRDC designs the ship, a sick and gasping Shipyard is identified and SCI is made the agency to monitor the process. After a long nine years, a ship is delivered after DG Shipping, MMD and IRS inspect the ship at various stages and provide all approvals and documentation. And finally, the local crew informs DSS that the vessel is unfit for voyage and now it's the turn of the Islanders to pinpoint the blame on any one of the above bodies.
Western India Shipyard Ltd, a ABG Group Company based in Goa was given the contract to build MV Campbell Bay, a 500-pax vessel for Andaman and Nicobar Admn. The Agreement was signed on 8 April 2003. The contractual date of delivery was 12 December 2005, whereas the Ship was delivered on 5 November 2011, after a prolonged delay of 5 years and 11 months. The contract price was Rs 79.20 Crore plus CST @ 4%. Andaman Admn has already paid Rs 64.18 Crore to the Shipyard.  The liquidated damage @0.75% per month of the delay on the final cost was worked out to be Rs 42.174 crore and the amount to be recovered on the account of LD after deducting CST comes to about Rs 23.986 Crore.
Capt Seshasai, Director,
Shipping Services
The design of the ship was prepared by Late Prof. Sambandham of National Ship Design and Reasearch Centre (NSDRC) a premier ship design body which is now subsumed with Indian Maritime University. Speaking to LOA, Maj. Arun Pathak, President & Executive Director, ABG Group said that due to the demise of the Designer, they had to face many issues.
The major problem with the ship is severe vibration on 3rd Deck, and the Shipyard as well as their technical team is yet to diagnose the source. "Due to vibration, many other problems are cropping in like leakage in pipelines and other connections," said a senior official from DSS.
The Directorate of Shipping Services (DSS) is going vigorously against the Shipyard. SCI and ANI Admn has already notified an exhaustive list of shortfalls and defects etc to ABG Shipyard. ANI Admn has observed that the Shipyard is trying to escape from the guarantee obligations some way or other. The DSS also rued that the Shipyard had not placed anyone at Port Blair or onboard and they had to report the defects to one Mr Sunil Sharma sitting at Mumbai office, which never worked. However, speaking to LOA, its President clarified that they are not running away and has placed a senior officer, Amitabh Dutta in Port Blair. "This was done after much pressure was put by the Admn," says a senior official from DSS.
The Steering trial and speed trial of the vessel was conducted on 2 Dec 2011 at Port Blair and the vessel was supposed to achieve a speed of 16.5 knots, which it made on the trial date in presence of SCI, IRS and MMD. Excessive vibration issue was brought up by the crew members only during the trial after the steering and speed trials were signed by MMD, IRS, SCI and DSS representatives. DSS admits that the reports were signed in a hurry with a view to obtain full time "A" certificate for deployment of vessel into service, as the report was urgently required to be sent to DG (Shipping) for issuance of "A" Certificate. It also admits that the Admn was not aware about the magnitude of vibration issue while signing the speed trial report. A report made by the Admn says that excessive vibration issue flared up much after signing of trial report, when the second trial was made.
When the Admn felt that the Shipyard is not paying required attention to analyse or rectify the excessive vibration and other defects, a notice was served upon the Shipyard on 22 Dec 2011. SCI was also requested to analyse the reason for the defect. A team of experts from IRS and SCI conducted sea trial to obtain the readings. IRS has informed SCI that operation of the ship would neither be safe nor pleasant.
After repeated demands by the Admn on 10 Jan 2012 and 17 Jan 2012, ABG Shipyard initially disputed the vibration notice stating that vessel trials had been conducted on seven occasions in presence of MMD, IRS and owner representative without any adverse comments regarding vibration. It also alleged that vessel was issued clean class certificates by MMD without any adverse remarks. The Admn however contested the allegations saying that it had informed the shipyard about the vibration issue.
The report says that ABG Shipyard did not budge to the notices of the Admn to depute their representative for a trial scheduled on 10 Feb 2012. However, after repeated requests, ABG Shipyard attended the trial on 10th Feb along with SCI and Naval representatives. As per the recommendations of the team, ABG Shipyard commenced structural strengthening work, which was completed on 23 Feb 2012. Again a sea trial was conducted on 24th Feb. Vibration was found minimum at 75% maximum continuous rating (MCR) at a speed of 11.5 to 12 knots. Speaking to LOA, Capt Seshasai, Director DSS said that it cannot accept the vessel if it could not achieve the designed speed of 16.5 knots.
The Admn has directed the shipyard to immediately rectify all defects and shortfall in supply. It has asked them to identify the root cause for vibration and arrest it. It has also demanded that the Shipyard submit performance guarantee as per Ship Building Contract, whereas the Yard has only given corporate guarantee, which is not as per the contract.
It has demanded to position qualified guarantee engineers and local workshop to attend guarantee repairs. Considering the remoteness of the Islands and shipping being a 'lifeline' it has advised to identify a competent local workshop and appoint them as local backup service unit to meet all emergency repairs at call and short notices. It is not happy with the arrangement of deputing workshop from mainland which involves huge expenditure, and waste of time. The Admn has also shown concern over incurring huge expenditure every day on manning, fuel, port charges and water charges. It is planning to recover it from the Shipyard.
The Admn is also looking into the contractual provisions to address the current imbroglio. As per the contract, it says that the vessel should be ready for intended service in all respect. Manning and fuel charges shall be recovered in case the vessel is non-operational prior to induction. In case, the builder fails to rectify the defects within 15 days, the buyer is free to rectify at builder's cost. As per the contract, ANI Admn is not obliged to accept the vessel if it is not ready for service. The Builder has to pay for the rectification of excessive vibrations. It also says that the contract can be terminated and the down payments can be recovered and penalty as decided by the Admn can be imposed.
However, the Head of ABG Group told LOA that it has already placed a representative in Port Blair and is vigorously pursuing the matter and has requisitioned IRS to do another round of Vibration Analysis. He also asserted that they are committed to fully rectify the defect.
The Admn in the report about MV Campbell Bay says that it will only sign the Protocol of Acceptance after complete rectification of defects and arrest of vibration. It has also made it clear that it will only accept the vessel only if it achieves the speed of 16.5 knots without any vibration. But, it is notable that the Administration has still not signed the Protocol of Acceptance for MV Kalighat, even after years of its induction.
The Shipyard is yet to identify the root cause of vibration and if it is a major design fault and if the vessel remains a cripple for good, no penalty clauses are going to be a solace as a vessel planned some 9 years back will only push the connectivity to Southern group back by a decade. Planning or execution going awry has been adding to the woes of Islanders since Independence.

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