KARACHI: There was a lot of activity seen around MV Heng Tong 77, the container ship that ended up at Seaview beach after having run aground on July 21 as it was successfully defueled during a careful and strategic two-day de-bunkering operation on Thursday.
There were fire tenders, ambulances and visits by Navy personnel as more barriers were put in place at all the entry points to Abdul Sattar Edhi Avenue to block access to the beach where a de-bunkering or defueling operation was under way.
The defueling of the ship, which had commenced on Wednesday, could not be completed within a day as had been thought earlier due to high tide hindering the work. But on Thursday the high tide was to be at 1.48pm and keeping this in mind, work started at 5am.
There had been fears of environmental hazards as it became known that the ship was also carrying 118 tonnes of bunker fuel. The choppy waters and tides hitting against the vessel had brought up the danger of leakage following which the Karachi Port Trust and Pakistan Navy had decided to make a contingency plan which included the immediate placing of oil spill containment booms around the stationary ship.
The KPT facilitated the de-bunkering operation by providing oil spill kits, dispersants and maintaining stringent vigilance to ensure no spillage.
KPT’s Marine Pollution Control team with diggers and bulldozers got busy in strengthening the embankments and catchment area around the ship.
Pakistan Navy rendered its technical assistance through its men and material to overcome challenges and difficulties involved in the de-bunkering process.
On Thursday, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammed Amjad Khan Niazi also carried out an aerial visit around the grounding site of MV Heng Tong 77 in order to review the defueling process.
A Pakistan Navy statement says that keeping in view the weather, winds, tides and other factors, the salvage operation is expected to be carried out around the middle of August.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2021