Mt Pavit salvers demand payment of $1-mn dues from DG shipping

MMB has been facing problems with the auction itself. Also, the cost of salvage and towing has exceeded the actual worth of the ship

The salvers of the 999-tonne tanker Mt Pavit, Great Offshore's Salvage Services have sent a notice to the office of the Directorate General of Shipping claiming reimbursement of salvage fee of around $1 million. Unlike earlier reminders, for the first time, the salvers have asked for reimbursement from the government irrespective of the outcome of the third auction of Mt Pavit.

The foreign-registered vessel had trespassed into Indian shores in July last year and was re-tendered this June after first round bids failed to match the reserve price of Rs 4.75 crore. The vessel had drifted, unmanned from Oman and had sparked a security scare. In October 2011, after attempts to get a favourable response from the Dubai-based owners Pavit Shipping and Prime Tankers LLC failed, the government was informed by the insurers that they had staked claim of $1.4 million.

"Fifteen months have elapsed and two auction notices put up by Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) have not been able to meet the minimum reserve bid price to recover the salvers' expenses. While we have carried out a Sovereign duty under the provisions of Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, and incurred huge costs, there isn't much respite so far," said a company spokesperson. "We finally sent a reminder to the Directorate as we need our expenses cleared irrespective of the auction. We carried out the salvage at their behest," he added.

The salvers have been informed that MMB is going for e-tender to reach out to a larger audience, as the vessel is still classified as "sea-worthy".

MMB has been facing problems with the auction itself. Also, the cost of salvage and towing has exceeded the actual worth of the ship. With at least six agencies, including Shipping Corporation of India and Coast Guard, waiting to have their expenses cleared, officials say paying the dues of just one agency looks difficult. "We are taking a legal view in the matter," said an MMB official. The DG shipping was unavailable for comment.

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