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Cmdr. Capt. Surrinder Kumar Mohan

He has had a full life sailing the high seas. During a long and rather illustrious career, he has had the opportunity to command the worlds largest vessel, T. T. Jahre Viking. Capt. Mohan relates his experiences aboard the vessel that he has ably captained for the last ten years and continues to do so till today.

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The Jahre Viking conducting operations with another tanker

During Iran-Iraq war, Iraqi's hit her on May 14th, 1988. She was declared a total constructive loss and laid up in Brunei Bay. But the tides of fortune had other things in store for her; she was soon resold to Norway-based shipowners, Norman International, in December 1989 for $ 35 million. Repair work began in 1990 at Singapore where the yard replaced some 3,700 tonnes of steel. Later, she changed hands yet again and was sold to tanker owner Jorgen Jahre for $ 39 million; she was then re-christened Jahre Viking. The vessel was given to the worlds largest and best management company, Wallem Ship management from Hong Kong. After completion of rebuilding, she was ready to sail the seas. In 1991, she loaded her first cargo at Juaymah, Saudi Arabia. Today, she runs regularly between the Middle East and the US.

I have been attached with this giant vessel for the last ten years and if I may, in all modesty add, my team and I have contributed substantially towards the vessel, establishing a very good name and reputation in the tanker market and with major oil companies. Many oil majors have chartered her and have expressed satisfaction with the vessels staff performance.

The Jahre Viking transited Suez Canal for the first time on January 25, 1995. An event which received extensive coverage by Egyptian newspapers and television in India. The Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister and the Governor of Suez Canal were on board during the first transit. I was presented with a plaque by the Governor of Suez Canal. During transit, His Excellency, the President of Egypt, Mr. Hosni Mubarak, was seen standing at Esmailia to witness the worlds largest ship transiting through Suez Canal on her maiden transit.

To my great regret, I do not think another vessel of the size of Jahre Viking will ever be built, as it is not financially viable considering the current new building cost, legislation of double hulls, and the demand of the crude oil.

I hope it would not be out of place to talk about the role played by Indian seafarers. Indian seafarers have earned well-deserved reputation, a fact which is made evident by the ever-increasing number of Indians employed by foreign ship owners.

Yet, our seafaring fraternity is small and not as well represented as it should be. The Indian Merchants Federation members should continue spreading traditions to our youths.

The new stcw convention which comes in force will positively enhance performance and safety aspects of vessel as more stringent rules have been laid down for the training of the officers, crew and shore maritime establishments. I feel proud to say that India is already well geared up to fulfil the requirements of the revised stow conventions.

I am anxiously waiting for the day when the Ministry of Transport and Shipping will recognize Indian masters and Chief Engineers achievements and recommend to the Government of India to suitably reward our achievements for commanding and running the worlds largest floating object.

The vessel has received extensive media coverage in the past, BBCs Discovery channel has featured T. T. Jahre Viking, interviewed with BBC by "Jeremy Clarksons, the programme named "Extreme Machines", was shown on televisions all over the world several times, including India. Another programme, "Building the Biggest", received wide coverage all over the world.

Having spent my formative years in Panipat, a land-locked town, close to Delhi in north India, I had an eager yearning for the adventurous life of a sailor from a very early age. I embarked on my romance with the high seas in 1960. I was about 18 years old, full of energy and ready to take on the world. My tryst with the seas began on board Malabar Steamships home trade vessel Jayshor. I joined as an ordinary seaman (commonly known in those days as a Khalasi). For four years, I sailed in various home trade companies and obtained my mate home trade competency certificate. After clearing my Mate Home Trade, I joined Chowgule Steamship home trade passenger fleet, which plied between Bombay-Goa. My career took a turn for the better, when I joined Wallem Ship management in 1972 and obtained Mater F. G. in the year 1974. Wallem Ship management entrusted me with command in 1975. I was given the honour of Commodore of Wallem Fleet in 1993. In January 1992, I was entrusted with the command of the worlds largest vessel and tanker T. T. Jahre Viking. This has perhaps been the most challenging as well as proud assignment in my shipping career. The vessel has been called the biggest floating object on earth. During Iran-Iraq war, Iraqi's hit T. T. Jahre Viking on May 14th, 1988. It was declared a total constructive loss and laid up in Brunei Bay. Today, she runs regularly between the Middle East and US.

T. T. Jahre Viking, has the deadweight of 564,763 MT and summer displacement have 647, 955 MT when laden with nearly 4.1 million barrels of crude oil, is crewed by Indian officers and Filipino seamen. As the Master of the vessel, my immediate responsibility remains delivering a cargo worth about $112 million with optimum dispatch and turnover. This is no mean task considering that cargo on board the vessel is an environmental hazard. I ensure that my crew are well trained, maintain high professional standards and are capable of complying with industry safety procedures and do the necessary to protect the environment. These concerns are paramount in the shipping industry now.

T. T. Jahre Viking has had an interesting past during the course of which she has changed many hands. As a matter of fact, she became the largest vessel in the world more by accident than by design. Jahre Viking initially was not very large. It was launched in Japan at Sumitomo Heavy Industries Yard at Opera in 1975 as hull number 1016 and christened Seawise Giant. After three years she was sold to C. Y. Tung who returned the vessel to shipbuilder Nippon Kokan in Japan to have a new section added. Amazingly, after modification, she measured 458.45 M, a full 158.5 M longer than the Eiffel Tower!

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The Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister and the Governor of Suez Canal on board during transit.

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