Grounding of bulk carrier near Chennai port averted a marine catastrophe

The Marshall Islands flag bulk carrier, Genco Predator, carrying a significant cargo of 54,320 metric tonnes of rock phosphate from Safaga Port in Egypt, was reported to encounter a critical situation near Chennai, India. On December 9, the vessel ran aground just five miles from the Chennai coastline, posing a severe threat to marine safety and operations at the local port. The Genco Predator was en route to a port in India, with its cargo intended for Greenstar Fertilizers Limited, a leading manufacturer of phosphatic fertilizers in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu. Rock phosphate is a vital component in fertilizer production, and India remains the world’s largest importer of this mineral.

The grounding of the vessel at the port’s entrance channel could have escalated into a major marine disaster. However, the prompt and efficient response from the V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust’s rescue team played a pivotal role in averting this crisis. Their efforts on December 10 led to the successful refloating of the Genco Predator, which was then moved to the outer anchorage. The vessel was later allowed re-entry into the port at high tide and safely berthed at the Dakhsin Bharat Gateway Terminal in Tuticorin on December 12. The discharge of cargo at berth nine proceeded without any further complications, ensuring the continuity of rock phosphate supply for fertilizer production.

This incident not only highlights the criticality of swift rescue operations but also the importance of maintaining navigable shipping channels. The Genco Predator’s grounding and the potential for a blockage in the shipping channel could have severely affected India’s agricultural sector.

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