KOCHI: Finally, Enrica Lexie bade adieu to Kochi after a forced stay of nearly 80 days. The Italian vessel, detained off the Kochi coast after its marines shot dead two Indian fishermen on February 15, left the outer sea off Kochi at 11.10 pm on Saturday on getting release order from the Kerala High Court.
Within an hour of getting clearance from the Cochin Port Trust, the vessel lifted its anchor and got ready for the voyage.The ship was anchored 9 nm off the shore for 77 days.
The vessel was detained by the police after the firing incident.
On Saturday, after receiving the release order from the High Court, Dolphin Tankers MD Pio Shiano and Master of the ship Umberto Vitteli met the Deputy Conservator of Port. The owners then left for the customs office, in a boat, to get the emigration clearance.
They completed the procedures and received clearance from the port.
By that time, the police security team deployed in the vessel was called back.
The five-member team was headed by Fort Kochi SI Mohanan. Around 10.30 pm, two boats carrying the officials reached close to the vessel. A ladder was dropped down for the Master of the vessel to enter the berth.
Once the Master boarded the vessel, the final preparations were on. The lights were switched off. At 11.05 pm the anchor was lifted and later the vessel started voyage. When the ship set off to sail, the Captain came forward and waved at the police officials.
The port officials and coastal police were also present.
“There were 19 Indians on board the vessel. Initially all of them kept a distance with us. But we managed to have a good relationship with them. They provided food for us. The captain was very co-operative,” one of the police officers who was deployed on board the vessel said.
While the vessel was under detention in the outer channel of the Kochi port, it was under the surveillance of police and the customs. Initially 20 police personnel were deployed in the vessel, later it was reduced to eight and then to five. Even after receiving the release order from the High Court, the vessel remained in the high seas for almost 9 hours.
“It was a long procedure to get clearance from the port. The ship owners produced clearance certificate from Mercantile Marine Department, police and other documents,” Counsel for the owner of the vessel V J Mathew said.