Bangalore: Nearly a year after cargo ship MV Rezzak went missing in the Black Sea with 25 Indian sailors, India has written to Panama to act against the agency that cleared the vessel for seaworthiness despite 10 known deficiencies, some of them crucial.
Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK), a ship classification society, had allowed Panama-registered Rezzak to sail from Novorossiysk in Russia to Bartin in Turkey, on the condition that it would fix the remaining problems at Bartin.
Rezzak never made it to the Turkish port. It disappeared on 18 February and the fate of its crew is still unknown.
Classification societies set technical rules on safety and protection of ships, confirm that designs and calculations meet these rules, and survey ships and structures during the process of construction and commissioning.
Japan-based NKK is one of the 10 full-time members of the International Association of Classification Societies, the main global body of ship-classification societies.
“According to Panamanian rules, in order to allow the vessel to sail under the (certain) mentioned deficiencies, the duty of the classification society was to request authorization of the flag administration before giving necessary certificate/permission for sailing,” Deepak Kapoor, a deputy director general of shipping, said in a 30 December letter to the Panama Maritime Authority.
“But, NKK had not taken any authorization from the Panama Maritime Authority and has therefore violated the rules. The (final) report should indicate action taken by the Flag Administration Panama against NKK for violating their rules.”
The director general of shipping (DGS) is India’s maritime regulator.
NKK could not be reached for comments.
The Panama Maritime Authority is preparing a final marine accident investigation report on the missing ship and its crew.
While NKK issued Rezzak’s class and statutory certificates, the ship’s document of compliance and the safety management certificate were issued by Mascosnar Corp. (MC), a firm authorized bv the flag administration of Panama.
“Therefore, it is evident that NKK and MC have not performed their duties properly and issued the certificates to the vessel MV Rezzak and granted permission to sail without conducting proper survey of the vessel,” Kapoor wrote in the letter.
Before the Rezzak left Novorossiysk, it was detained for 15 days to rectify 38 deficiencies, which included 11 related to stability, structure and related equipment, five related to life-saving equipment and another five related to fire safety, according to an inspection report prepared by the Novorossiysk port authorities. Only 28 were fixed.
Of these, three problems were crucial as the ship was carrying steel billets, a high-density cargo, Uma Mohan, sister of Mahendra Gopal Krishna Menon, the ship’s chief engineer, had earlier told Mint.
According to a draft marine accident investigation report by the Panama Maritime Authority, NKK had recommended that the vessel could sail for one single voyage from Novorossiysk to Bartin. The DGS had received the draft report in October for comments.