To honour the commissioning of INS Visakhapatnam and celebrate the upcoming Navy Day 2021, Yo! Vizag is holding Nautical Series, an endeavour to tell compelling stories about Vizag shores. As a part of the series, Captain Pataballa Padmanabha Rao of The Great Eastern Line, India’s largest private shipping line, shared interesting anecdotes from his maiden command in Vizag.
Flashes from the past:
Recalling the most glorious moment in his journey, the Captain shares, “7 June 1974 was the most glorious and joyful moment of my life when our Pee-caps flew up in the air in celebration of our TS Rajendra passing out, the state of the art training ship built by the Hindustan Shipyard Limited Visakhapatnam. Upon its successful launching in Vizag, the ship was subsequently towed to Mumbai and later permanently moored to a buoy specially designated for the purpose inside the city’s inner anchorage.”
Sharing information regarding training at the sea, he notes, “Training Ship is a Maritime Nautical Floating College giving two years of theory and Practical navigational training while afloat at Mumbai inner Anchorage. Thereafter, the passing out cadets are placed on various company ships for another two years for practical hands-on training by onboard master and officers while sailing. After completion of the training, the cadets are required to pass the examinations set by the Mercantile Marine Department on behalf of the Directorate General of Shipping, Government of India, and obtain Certificate Of Competencies that are recognised internationally.”
Taking us to the days of his first command in Vizag, the Captain says, “I joined GESCO in Mumbai as a trainee Apprentice on 4 August 1974. In 1982 arrived the second best moment of my professional life when I took my first command on GESCO’s MV Jag Dhir, a Pioneer Class General/Bulk Cargo vessel built by HSL Vizag. The vessel was stationed at Vizag Port, a port that is synonym for its scenic beauty. As a part of my command, I took several responsibilities – being the frontrunner in Ship Traffic, Cargo handling, Emergency Management, safety and security of Merchant ships. And what an awesome coincidence that my last command with GESCO for handing over of M.V. Jag Rahat to Five Star Shipping, was also in Vizag Port around March 1994! My excitement of my maiden command made me to create a near identical and near to scale replica of M.V. Jag Dhir while on my maiden voyage as Master to Singapore with the assistance of a very creative and skilled Helmsman Muthuraj.”
Reminiscing his first ship handling experience as Master after taking over Command in Vizag Port, the Captain notes that it was from Berth EQ9 and M.V. Jag Dhir was all ready to sail with pilot onboard. “After all cast off and vessel was being pulled by three tug boats upon first engine order there was no response from engines. Subsequently retried, and again failed, and the vessel was already being moved at a relatively high speed astern. Our pilot advised us to stop the speeding vessel and immediately tie her up at the adjacent vacant berth. Same was unconditionally heeded by me,” he added.
Shedding light on the turn of events, the seasoned professional further adds, “Additional tugs who were called in emergency and who immediately responded and the vessel was safely stopped well in time and made-fast at EQ1 on a Sunday for carrying out emergency repairs to engines. On all going well, engines were repaired and tested and the vessel finally sailed out of the harbour early next morning bidding farewell to Visakhapatnam, a safe, well managed and well secured natural harbour in the country and also my dream port.”
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