02 July 2011

MV Wisdom stands stranded in Mumbai; its myths and reality:

When the 25-year old container ship was found stranded on Juhu Beach, near Mumbai, on June 11, it generated more rumours than interest. Instead of factual information, what was reported in the media was more based on conjectures and hearsay, leaving the Indian public more confused than ever.

Every person who went to see the ship came back with full of stories. Each one had a theory better than his neighbour. Every piece of information was enlarged, expanded and spread out. "Gross Tonnage" (GT) of the ship was confused for "light deadweight tonne" (LDT), and the "bow thruster" was confused for the "propeller". In order to clear the mystery surrounding the Wisdom, let us look at it in the right perspective. The motor vessel Wisdom was built in 1985 as a cellular container ship having a profile capacity of 1002 TEUs ( A TEU is a unit that indicates a steel container of 20ft and is referred to as Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit). It can effectively load only 660 TEUs of 14 tonnes each.

Another myth that has come up is that the ship weighs about 9000 tonnes. This is patently wrong. Wisdom has a "gross tonnage" of 9367. Gross tonnage has no units. "Gross Tonnage" is just a figure "indicative of the volumetric capacity of the ship". It has nothing to do with weight. The ship is without cargo but may be having some spares, stores, bilge water, ballast etc. All these items are part of "deadweight" and not "gross tonnage". But there is hardly any "deadweight" on the ship. Then what is the weight of the empty ship? A ship of 12500 deadweight tonnage would weight about 5000 tonnes. Besides, any other weights when found on board would need to be added to give its "displacement" which is what is needed to be known before attempts are made to salvage the ship.

Source: The Economic Times. By Capt Dinesh Gautama. 27 June 2011

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