The Vessel Management Cell widely known as 'VMC' is an operational wing of NIOT which proficiently manages the running, operation and maintenance of the fleet of MoES research vessels viz. ORV Sagar Nidhi, BTV Sagar Manjusha, CRV Sagar Purvi and CRV Sagar Paschimi.
Established back in 1996, with an aim to manage two coastal research vessels CRV Sagar Purvi and CRV Sagar Paschimi acquired by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), for understanding coastal pollution, coastal pollution monitoring, coastal surveys and near shore multidisciplinary work. During 2001, VMC committed to manage a barge, Sagar Shakthi that was used for implementing 1MW gross pilot plant to demonstrate OTEC technology, which is first ever attempt in the world with a major success.
In 2006, they acquired an ocean research vessel BTV Sagar Manjusha a specialised vessel built by Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) for deployment of data buoys and for various other scientific activities. It can accommodate eleven scientists, eight officers and ten crew. It is equipped with two bow thrusters, specialised deck cranes, deep sea winch with A-Frame for carrying out scientific activities.
Later in 2008, a world class ocean research vessel christened, ORV Sagar Nidhi joined the Indian fleet of research vessels. ORV Sagar Nidhi is only of its kind in India, built at Fincantieri, Italy. ORV Sagar Nidhi, India's pride and most sophisticated ice class multi-disciplinary vessel of the sub-continent is having a fully automatic diesel-electric propulsion with azimuth and bow thrusters, Dynamic Positioning class II (DP II) system, a deep sea winch to hoist 60 tonnes from a depth of 6000 m with highly advanced operational success. This vessel is being utilized for carrying out multidisciplinary research and technology demonstration work viz. Deep sea mining, Remotely Operable Submersible (ROSUB), Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), Exploration of gas hydrates, oceanographic, meteorological, geological research. It is designed with blue water capability upto 10000 nautical miles for voyages lasting upto 45 days. ORV Sagar Nidhi, is also the first Indian flagged research vessel that reached the 66'S latitude, facing 11 storms and 73nm/hr wind speed, witnessing nature's harshest conditions and awesome breathtaking sceneries of Antarctica.
VMC's objective is not only limited to vessel management but also they are effectively handling a research project of MoES - "Comprehensive topographic survey of Exclusive Economic Zone of India" with a group of interdisciplinary researchers for carrying out multibeam based bathymetry survey upto 500m from shore along the entire east coast of India & Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
The main function of Vessel Management Cell (VMC) is the Operation, Maintenance and Management of vessels such as Costal Research Vessels (CRV) Sagar Purvi and Sagar Paschimi, Buoy Tendering Vessel (BTV) Sagar Manjusha and Oceanographic Research Vessel (ORV) Sagar Nidhi. . Procurement of onboard equipments and spares, dry-dock and other ship repairs, preparation for all cruises including Southern Ocean Expedition and coordination with the team till end of cruise through offshore and onshore support for both scientific and ship team, are other major activities of VMC.
The Vessel Management Cell is providing research vessels to the user research institutes and organizations under MoES for the successful implementation of Ocean related programmes. The two coastal research vessels "Sagar Purvi" and "Paschimi" are used for the implementation of the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMAPS) and Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM) programmes of the Ministry of Earth Sciences and to provide services to the other agencies like Universities and Research Institutes for surveys and data collection. The Buoy Tender Vessel "Sagar Manjusha" is involved in the ocean observation programme and other projects of the NIOT and other institutes. The Technology Demonstration Vessel "Sagar Nidhi" is catering to the ongoing and the new programmes of the MoES such as the Deep Sea Mining, Remotely Operable Vehicle, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle supporting the Underwater Observations Systems and Instruments, surveys to support the Technology Demonstration Programmes and to act as support platform for the various research activities planned by the Ministry.