Friday, March 14, 2008

Goa's River Princess


One of the stranger sights for visitors to Goa, India, is the sight of the River Princess, a cargo ship that ran aground in a storm in June 2000 and has been sitting -- and rusting away -- a few hundred yards offshore ever since.

What to do with the stricken vessel has been a political football in Goa, and several governments have tried unsuccessfully for years to have the ship removed. The task has been complicated by the fact that soon after the accident, local authorities drilled a huge hole in the side of the ship to keep it from drifting into local shipping lanes. The presence of the ship has led to widespread beach erosion that has sullied what is otherwise a lovely stretch of the Indian coastline.


However, workers have been reportedly working on the ship day and night for the past several months, judging from the din of banging and steel shredding to which the local community has been subjected. However, it's unclear if they're attempting to make the ship seaworthy again so it can be towed away, or simply cutting it up into pieces for scrap. The latter scenario carries with it no small amount of environmental risk, and there's no guarantee the ship, after being subjected to the elements for nearly 8 years, will stay in one piece if attempts are made to tow it away.

Either way, the day that the River Princess finally leaves the Goan coast will likely be made a local holiday, commemorated by locals with the mother of all celebrations.

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