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Kolkata port refurbishes British-era steamer for joy rides on river

The Paddle Steamer built in 1944 in UK's Dumbarton Shipyard has been refurbished at the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port and is undergoing trials (Pic. Courtesy PIB)

A Paddle Steamer built in 1944 in UK’s Dumbarton Shipyard has been refurbished at the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata (erstwhile Kolkata Port Trust) and is undergoing trial runs before its inauguration at the beginning of next month, the Shipping Ministry said today.

The vessel named ‘P S Bhopal’ will remain in the river moored adjacent to the shore or jetty and will be self-propelled with its own power. The craft will have an exhibition space, restaurant and small assembly hall.

The steamer, which has a length of about 63m and breadth of 9.2m, was earlier being used as a training vessel. With the completion of the lease agreement with the Training Institute in the year 2019, the Kolkata port authorities wanted to refurbish this vessel which has a heritage value and open it to the public, said Shri Vinit Kumar, Chairman, SMP Kolkata.

Accordingly, SMP Kolkata went for a long-term lease of the vessel which was at that point of time in a dilapidated condition and did not have its own propulsion.

The vessel is on the verge of completion and a few trials in the river have taken place to ensure its safety of operation with passengers on board.

Though the Paddle is not operational now, the basic structure of the vessel has not been altered and new main engines with propulsion has been installed so that the vessel can move in the river with passengers on board so as to bring the real feel of the vessel when built in 1944.