Afcons Barge P 305 sank on 17th May and only 186 crew could be saved out of 261. Search and rescue for the remaining crew is on by the Indian navy. The barge was on ONGC duty at the time of sinking. ONGC has explained the conditions under which the barge, which is called Papaa 305 sank.
“Cyclone Tauktae had hit Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai in the early hours of May 17, 2021 where ONGC’s major production installations and drilling rigs are located. Three construction barges of M/s Afcons working on a project of ONGC in Western Offshore fields in the Arabian Sea and one floater drilling rig of ONGC were severely impacted in the cyclone.
All the anchors of the Barge P-305 had given away, it started drifting and hit an unmanned platform of ONGC resulting in water ingress and eventually capsized at around 1700 Hrs of 17 May 2021.”
A person who does not wish to be named and was rescued one of the three barges that adrifted said that the Master of P-305 hardly moved 200 metres from its location near Heera oilfield in the Arabian Sea after receiving the Cyclone Tauktae warning. Since P-305 probably had very little remaining work wanted to remain anchored near the worksite rather than moving towards shore and return after a few days, he said.
An unsigned note from Engineering company Afcons Infrastructure Limited, which is a part of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, states that on May 14 all its vessels advised to secure their respective work locations and move to safe locations at the earliest. The master of P-305 chose to move 200 metres away from the Heera platform based on his assessment that it was a safe location since the maximum predicted wind speed was only 40 knots and his location was 120 nautical miles away from the eye of the tropical storm.
Afcons also states that the barge is owned and operated by Durmast Enterprises Limited. “Durmast is the owner and the responsibility for marine operations rests with the vessel owner and his marine crew stationed on the vessel… Afcons, as charterer deploys its construction workmen and supervisors, who stay on the barge and carry out construction or revamp work on the platform,” said the statement.
Afcons and consortium partner Halani-TES-Nauvata had hired the barge from Durmast.
The barge captain Rakesh Ballav, along with others, has been booked Mumbai’s Yellow Gate police station on the basis of a complaint by barge engineer Mustafizur Rehman Shaikh. “The case has been registered under section 304(2), 338 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),” the police said.