Varun fleet to be auctioned

Six LPG carriers belonging to Yudhishthir Khatau-led Varun Resources are to be auctioned, bringing a close to a dreadful chapter of crew abandonment that has shamed a once rising star of international shipping.

A court in Mumbai has ruled that bids can now be lodged for the Maharshi Devatreya, Maharshi Krishna Treya, Maharshi Bhavatreya, Maharshi Bhardwaj, Maharshi Shubhatreya and Maharshi Mahatreya with the winning bidder to be revealed on April 20.

The condition of the vessels, which have been arrested and laid up for many months, is not great. However, the cash raised will go to pay back creditors, but also to the crews who have not been paid since the middle of December. The judge in Mumbai heard distressing reports about the dire conditions onboard many of the ships, prompting him to move ahead with the auction.

Varun has had a checkered recent past. Khatau was feted in the previous decade, becoming the youngest ever president of global shipowning body, Bimco, in 2011. However, for the past six years Varun has run into regular difficulties, coming close to bankruptcy in 2014. Varun’s crew have been one of the worst hit by cases of crew abandonment in recent years, some even resorting to desperate hunger strikes.

Other ships belonging to Varun including a pair of aframax crude tankers have been sold via auction in the past 12 months.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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