Cyclone Tauktae: What caused the barge P305 tragedy

Barge P305, the ONGC vessel that sank off Mumbai throughout Cyclone Tauktae, leading to the death of at least 51 people on board, had damaged freed from its anchor shortly after midnight on May 16, the Petroleum Ministry has confirmed.

Apart from some questionable selections like vessels staying out in the sea regardless of storm warnings, there have been too many technical failures that flag severe considerations.

Petroleum Ministry sources stated following the climate warning, ONGC had activated emergency response system and issued directions to all installations to take motion as per the commonplace working process (SOP).

SOP included staying on secure mode or returning to the anchoring factors by respective installations. There have been 342 vessels out on the sea with 7675 personnel, of which 6961 stayed secure at respective places.

According to the ministry, 243 fastened and 99 floating installations adopted the SOP. Of the 99 rigs, 94 remained secure at acceptable places at sea or shore.

READ | ONGC barge accident: Indian Navy captain recalls ‘appalling conditions at sea, 120 kmph winds, nine-metre-high waves’


While the sinking of Barge P305 has been the focus, a complete of 5 vessels carrying 714 personnel have been affected resulting from mechanical or anchor failure. So far, 628 individuals have been evacuated.


1) P305 – development barge: Had 261 personnel. It determined to remain close to the platform the place it was working. During the storm, the barge’s anchor gave away and it began drifting earlier than crashing right into a rig. So far, 186 personnel have been rescued (49 our bodies recovered), and search is on for the remaining 26 members.

2) Support Station-3: The towering wire line of the development barge snapped. The barge, with 202 personnel on board, has been dropped at security.

3) Sagar Bhushan Drill ship of ONGC: Carrying 101 personnel, the ship’s anchor gave away and there was additionally a mechanical fault in the steering system. However, all the crew have been dropped at shore safely.

4) Gal Constructor: A development barge with 137 personnel was at a “safe location”, the PNG Ministry stated. It began drifting after its anchor gave away. All personnel have been rescued.

5) Varaprada- The towing tugboat of barge Gal Constructor, bumped into misery on May 16 with 13 personnel on board. Two personnel have been rescued and the seek for the remaining 11 is ongoing.


A scrutiny of the chronology of occasions reveals that the Mumbai-based Digital Communication (DGCOM) Centre of the Ministry of Shipping obtained the misery name at round 10 am on May 17. However, the vessels had run into bother round midnight May 16.

Ministry sources stated by the time the details about the vessels was obtained, the cyclone had entered the Mumbai coastal zone.

“Despite extreme adverse weather conditions, the Coast Guard, Navy and merchant vessels were diverted to the distress site instantly. The Barge P305 ran into trouble in the night and sank early in the morning. Had this information come earlier, the rescue operations could have started much sooner,” an ONGC official stated.


While the ONGC has began a probe into the incident, sources in the ministry stated the emergency administration system was energetic and warnings from the IMD and Coast Guard had been relayed to all the vessels. An ONGC supply stated the advisories included a path from the firm that every one vessels transfer to a secure location.

In an announcement, ONGC and Afcons, the infrastructure firm that’s finishing up development work for the PSU, stated that P305 was a chartered vessel and Durmast Enterprises, the house owners of the barge, was accountable for selections on its security and safety.

ONGC and Afcons have put the blame on the captain of the barge, Balwinder Singh. Singh is amongst the 26 personnel of the sunk vessel who’re nonetheless lacking.

Afcons claimed that preliminary experiences indicated the captain of P305 took a choice to maneuver the barge solely 200 metres away from the platform the place it was working. “This was despite other vessels moving closer to safe harbours based on the advisories sent by ONGCc and other agencies,” an ONGC official stated

Afcons sources steered that there was an error of judgment as the captain felt secure at the chosen location, with most wind pace of 40 knots and the barge’s location about 222 km from the anticipated eye of the storm.

A retired senior ONGC official stated, “There is a possibility that the captain misunderstood the warning and was preparing for a tropical storm not a cyclonic one.”

There are additionally severe questions on the SOP itself and chain of command for ONGC operations, which contain plenty of contractors and sub-contracts. “Who was in command when directions to return to safety were issued and the captain of P305 took a call to stay back. The probe needs to establish how ONGC and Afcons, despite the call for return to safety, allowed the captain to override the orders and have his way,” the former ONGC official stated.


An enormous search operation continues to be on for the lacking personnel of two barges. The rescue mission includes the Indian Navy: 6 vessels (INS Kochi, INS Kolkata, INS Talwar, Beas, Betwa, Teg), Coast Guard: 5 vessels (ICG Smarth, Juliet, ICG 206, CG Patrol, ICG Shoor), ONGC: 20 Vessels, Afcons: 1 vessel and aerial survey with 15 helicopters (ONGC-7, Navy-4, Coast Guard-4).

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