On August 7, 2010, two Panamanian cargo ships- MSC Chitra, and MV Khalijia-III collided off the Mumbai coast. Upon impact, one of the ships-MSC Chitra tilted sharply causing an oil spill.
Indian Coast Guard (ICG) officials said that MSC Chitra was departing from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and MV Khalijia-III was sailing towards Mumbai Port Trust for berthing. The ships collided t 9:50 am. Both the ships were 180 meters long and developed cracks from the collision.
The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) received SOS soon after the collision and the Regional Operational Centre immediately deployed Coast Guard ship Kamala Devi.
Coast guards rescued 33 crew members of Chitra including the captain and the ship had been grounded near the Prong Reef Lighthouse. The crew contained two Pakistani citizens.
It is believed that carelessness of the port authorities as well as captains of the ships caused the collision. The two ships could not establish any radio communication as they were using two different radio frequencies. MSC Chitra was on VHF 13 while MV Khalijia-III was on VHF-12.
Though Coast guard officials said that the spill was significant and the situation is under control, Rahul Asthana, Chairperson, Mumbai Port Trust told reporters that MSC Chitra spilled tones of oil and the coast guard, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Mumbai Port Trust do not have enough equipment to contain this leak. The coast guard launched a helicopter installed with anti-pollution dispersion spray system to tackle the spill.
All operations at Mumbai port have been suspended as necessary work is going on to control the spill.