In a remarkable display of determination and skill, the Indian Navy has achieved a significant milestone by safely retrieving two massive steam generators from a stranded barge in the vicinity of the VO Chidambaranar port. After a challenging 19-day operation marked by relentless efforts, these crucial components destined for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) were successfully brought to safety on Wednesday.
The saga began when four steam generators, each weighing approximately 310 tonnes and intended for reactors 5 and 6 at the KKNPP, arrived at the VOC Port from Russia on August 12. Two of these generators were transported to the KKNPP site via barge on August 26 and 27, while the remaining two were set to follow suit on August 8.
However, as fate would have it, while the barge carrying the last two generators was nearing the KKNPP’s mini port, it got disconnected from the tug boat near the navigation channel. This unexpected turn of events, combined with adverse weather conditions including heavy winds and high tides, caused the barge to drift perilously close to the shore, where rocky outcrops posed a serious threat.
The initial attempts to tow the stranded barge back into position using the tug boat proved futile due to the barge’s immense weight. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, authorities called upon a high-power tug boat from Colombo to assist in the rescue operation.
Meanwhile, divers and underwater welders from major ports were summoned to evaluate the damage inflicted upon the barge during its struggle against the relentless waves and rocks. These skilled professionals worked tirelessly to assess the extent of the damage and make necessary repairs.
Despite the additional tug boat from Colombo joining the effort, it became evident that the combined power was still insufficient to free the barge. The situation demanded a creative solution.
After 19 days of tireless efforts, the Indian Navy, in collaboration with various stakeholders, achieved the extraordinary feat of successfully retrieving the two steam generators.