New Restaurant Aboard Grounded Freighter Set to Open in Vizag
Local officials are preparing for the debut of a restaurant aboard a Bangladeshi freighter that ran aground in Visakhapatnam, India in September 2020, turning what some might view as an undesirable marine casualty into a tourist attraction.
The 2009-built Maa is a 260-foot, 3,000 dwt freighter with ample deck space and hold capacity for a conversion. On October 12, 2020, while waiting to take on a load of stone at Vizag, she lost her anchor in a storm and went aground. A commercial salvor’s attempt to refloat the ship was scheduled for November, but it was called off, and the shipowner declared an intention to abandon the vessel in place.
Under other circumstances, this turn of affairs might lead to a legal dispute between the local government and the vessel’s insurer, followed by a costly wreck removal. Instead, the province of Andhra Pradesh took notice of the wreck’s popularity among tourists and decided to make the most of it. An Indian contractor removed about 25,000 gallons of fuel from the Maa’s tanks, so the pollution risk was minimized – all that was needed was a concessionaire to operate the site as a tourist attraction.
This week, the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) announced a joint venture partnership with a newly-formed local company, Shore and Ship Resorts, to open a restaurant aboard the Maa. The $2 million project is scheduled to open to the public on December 29.
The partners say that the grounding site is ideal for tourist access, located right next to a well-known seaside park. Shore and Ship Resorts is restoring and redeveloping the vessel, while APTDC is taking care of the shoreside infrastructure.
“The abandoned ship will be an attractive tourist project for the state. Hence we have asked the developers to advance their opening dates, so that it can cater to tourists visiting Vizag this winter season itself,” APTDC managing director S. Satyanarayana told the Deccan Chronicle.
A previous 2015 plan to turn the retired carrier INS Viraat into a floating hotel in Andhra Pradesh was not successful. The Maa is a far smaller and far newer vessel, and will require substantially less restoration. It will join another popular maritime attraction in Vizag, the decommissioned submarine INS Kursura, now displayed as a museum.