Wednesday, 8 July 2015


Brian Mendonca

On Sunday mornings, me and baba sometimes go to see the ships anchored at Mormugao Port, Vasco.  Last Sunday we were intrigued to see a mountain of sand on the jetty. Next to it was the cargo ship CHIPOLBROK COSMOS HONGKONG. It was a new ship – a beauty, built in 2011. It had docked at ports all over the world. Some of these were Houston, Texas; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Cuxhaven, Germany; Busan, South Korea; Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, and the Panama Canal. A tug was nudging the ship in alignment.

Chipolbrok (CP) is a Chinese-Polish joint stock shipping company established in 1961 by the governments of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Poland. Chipolbrok owns a fleet of 20 modern multipurpose vessels sailing across oceans between Asia, Europe, America and Africa. Chipolbrok is headquartered in Shanghai (China) with a branch office in Gdynia (Poland).

The reach of the sleeping dragon has to be admired for forging links between cultures so diverse and physically so far apart. Seeing such ships ferrying international cargo is a testimony to the efficacy of global understanding through global trade. The recent titter over the Chinese sub at Karachi is only one aspect of maritime traffic.

Yet China has trouble in its own backyard. Hong Kong, a former British colony which was returned to China in 1997, designated as a ‘Special Autonomous Region (SAR) (and where the ship is registered) sees no kinship with mainland China.  

Perched on a derelict boat baba was awed by what he saw. Amongst the numerous vessels of various sizes and shapes he pointed to one excitedly and exclaimed, ‘Baby boat!’  A bright red tug was nudging the nose of the enormous green Chipolbrok Cosmos towards the open waters away from the jetty. When I told baba we had to leave, he was most unwilling to do so. Close to our vantage point was a small nameless joint offering meals. We came away with a beef sukha.

Over the Sunday meal, my dad, reminisced of the time, in his working days. He said that it is the duty of the pilot to bring a liner or a ship to safe harbor as a captain on a foreign ship is unaware of local waters. However the overall responsibility rests with the captain. Similarly, the pilot leads the ship to the high seas after the operations are over. Once on a stormy afternoon in 1964 dad was on board the oil tanker, Desh Sewak pumping kerosene from ship to shore into the storage tanks at the oil installation.  Due to high velocity winds the ship broke its moorings and started drifting. In the course of disconnecting the hose there was spillage of kerosene. Luckily the engines were on and the ship headed out to sea.

What drew me to the Chipolbrok Cosmos was the artwork near the lettering on the hull. It appeared like some Warli figures dancing with a flute. I have yet to get closer for a good look.
Sources:;;; pix source: Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 5 July 2015

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