Nicobar Class Transport Ship
INS Nicobar, a large multi role troop ship converted from a merchant ship was launched at Hindustan SY at Vishakapatnam in April 1998. This unit was similar to the 19,000-ton, Polish-built, INS Andamans, that is used as a troopship [not to be confused with the Petya class Indian frigate, "INS Andaman", which went down during an exercise in the eastern fleet, with its sailors].
Contrary to other published reports, these ships were not built at Hindustan Shipyards, Vizag. These are Type B-561 cargo-passenger vessels designed & built by Szczecin Shipyard in Szczecin, Poland. They were originally ordered by the Ministry of Transport & Navigation for service with the Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI) and were later acquired by the Indian Navy for troop transport duties. The design of the Type B-561 was however sold to India for license construction. The ships have large davits for LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) and feature a high bridge forward, funnel aft and helicopter platform at the stern. The vessels could have a more general purpose role, other than troop transport.
Andaman and Nicobar groups of islands are situated in the Bay of Bengal, mid way between peninsular India and Mayanmar, spreading like a broken necklace in the North-south direction. Indian nationals need no permit to visit Andamans, India's Hawai. However, permits are required to visit Nicobar Islands and other tribal areas, which are given in exceptional cases. Seafood is the specialty of these islands. The unpolluted water of Andaman Sea abounds with varieties of fish, crabs, lobsters, prawns etc. Seafood is easily available and deliciously cooked. North Indian, South Indian, vegetarian, continental, Chinese dishes are also available.
These islands are located between 6º 45' and 13º 41' North latitudes, and 92º 12' and 93º 57' East longitude. There are in all 349 islands which can be distinguished into two groups geographically. Islands located north of 10º N latitude are known as Andaman group of Islands while islands located south of 10º N latitude are called Nicobar group of islands. There are 325 islands in Andaman group while Nicobar group has 24 islands. Total geographic area of Andaman & Nicobar Islands is 8249 sq.km. of which Andaman group of islands cover 6408 sq.km. while Nicobar group cover 1841 sq.km. Out of total 556 islands only 37 islands are inhabited by human beings - 24 in Andaman group and 13 in Nicobar group of islands.
At present five Passenger Ships viz. M.V. "Akbar", M.V. "Nicobar", M.V."Nancowry", M.V. "Swarajdweep" and M.V. "Harshavardhana" are plying between Port Blair and Mainland. The sea voyage from Kolkata/Chennai/Vizag to Port Blair takes 3 to 4 days and the Ships normally stay for around 3 days in Port Blair. There are about 3 / 4 sailings in a month from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa. There is usually one Sailing from Vizag every month. Sailing Schedules are prepared and approved by the A&N Administration one month in advance. Availability and issuing of tickets to the General Public is monitored by the A & N Administration.
Of the passenger ships owned by the Andaman and Nicobar Administration, MV Swarajdweep has two sister ships in MV Nancowry and MV Nicobar. MV Swarajdweep is a passenger ship navigating the waters between Port Blair and Chennai. MV Swarajdweep was built at the Hindustan Shipyard Limited in Vishakapatnam. It was bought for Rs 175.74 crores in 1999 and is newer than the other ships owned by the Andaman and Nicobar Administration. It can take 1,200 passengers on board. There are 111 crew members.Regular passenger ship services are available to Port Blair from Chennai, Calcutta and Vishakhapatnam and back. There are three to four sailings every month from Calcutta and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa. There is one sailing from Vishakhapatnam in a month. The voyage takes about 50 to 60 hours and the ship normally berths at Port Blair for about two to four days.
The MV Nancowry is designated as a run of the mill passenger ship that is endowed with the provision for carrying cargo as well. The MV Nancowry of India commences on its odyssey towards Port Blair from the southern city of India named Chennai. It is the Shipping Corporation of India that owns and coordinates all the proceedings of the MV Nancowry in India. The ship of MV Nancowry undertakes two voyages in a period of one month from Chennai and one voyage from Vishakapatnam in span of three months. It takes approximately ¾ days to reach Port Blair. In March 2009 the entire crew of the mainland bound ship MV Nancowry resorted to a protest against the Captain and the management of the ship after one of the crew was diagnosed with Andaman Fever. The entire ship was infested with rats, bed bugs and cockroaches and no one ever cared to peep into the cabins. Every year the ship is sent for Annual Passenger Survey and for maintenance at the drydocks, spending crores of Rupees. But surprisingly when the ship is cleared, the condition remains the same.
|Length (Overall)||157 meters / 515 feet|
|Length (Between Perpendiculars)||144 meters.|
|Height||12.8 meters (depth of the hull)|
|Beam||21 meters / 69 feet|
|Draft||6.7 meters / 22 ft|
|Displacement||19,000 Tons full load.|
|Gross Tonnage||14,176 tons|
|Main Machinery:||Two Cegielski-B&W type 6L35MC diesels |
each rated at 2670 kW,
driving two shafts.
Total power is listed at 5340 kW.
|Maximum Speed:||15.5kt - 16 knots.|
|Complement:||119 design, possibly 160 in practice.|
|Helicopters||Platform for one medium helicopter.|
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