Mysterious ship spotted in Alapuzha coast

published on March 19, 2007

Ship spotted off Alappuzha coast; demand for proper maritime monitoring system intensifies

Pioneer News Service | Alappuzha

The demand for a maritime monitoring system intensified after an unidentified ship was spotted off the Alappuzha coast, away from the old tip of the old pier, on Sunday evening.



This is the second time that an unidentified ship has been sighted off the Alappuzha coast within the last 40 days. Police rushed to the shore immediately after they were informed of the sighting by some fishing boat operators. They also installed a special light, the ‘tsunami light’ to track the ship.


They, however, suspended their vigil by midnight saying they did not have the necessary facilities to monitor the ship’s movement that had travelled 14 km away from the shoreline.


Police sources said that the Coast Guard and the Navy had been informed of the incident but no personnel or craft from any of the organisations had reached Alappuzha till late Monday evening.


Hundreds of people gathered on the shore as the news of the sighting of the ship spread like wild fire. The fishermen who reported the sighting returning from the sea said it was indeed a ship though police could not confirm whether it was a big boat or a ship from the blinking lights seen 14 km away.


The first unidentified ship was sighted off the Alappuzha coast on February 10 last. That the second ship also appeared off the same shoreline, that too within such a short time, has exposed the vulnerability of the coast, security experts point out.


Two sailors from the first ship had landed in Alappuzha town and purchased fuel from there with the help of some fishermen.


Local police had later registered a case. The Coast guard had been intimated about the sighting then within hours, but its personnel reached here only the next day. However, the Coast Guard or the Marine Enforcement had got no clue about the first mysterious ship.


“The first incident had proved the inefficiency of our security as well as surveillance system. It even proved how callously our security agencies are viewing such development. Now, a second mystery ship appeared off the same coast, and even after a full day, those who should look into such matters have boat landed up here,” said a retired police official.


“Apart from some formal things, the Kerala Police does not have much to do in this. That is why they informed the Navy and the Coast Guard of the matter. But look what has happened,” he added.


The Union Government had weeks back cautioned the State about the vulnerability of the Kerala coastline, and State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said about this. Defence Minister AK Antony also had said that the Kerala shore was not secure.


If a ship from outside has to anchor off a harbour, it should get clearance certificates from the port officer, Customs and the health officer. It was in violation of such norms that the captain and an aide from the first mystery ship had landed here and purchased fuel. They had also reportedly withdrawn money from an ATM facility. It is also said that a fisherman had photographed one of the duo.


However, the police, Customs or the Marine enforcement has so far not probed the incident, a source said. The fisherman, who is said to have helped the sailors from the first mystery ship, had picked up fuel from the town for them.


The police, which had registered a case regarding the incident, had not even bothered to enquire what language the sailors had been speaking.


Security experts say that it should be doubted that the sailors of the first ship could have had some mission to fulfil in Alappuzha as the ship had anchored right outside the Alappuzha town’s coastline. “It is in this context that a second mystery ship has been sighted off this coast. There should be intense monitoring of the coastline here,” said the retired police official.


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