Visakhapatnam: Merchant vessel, which was supposed to sail off on May 18 to Port Blair, got struck in the port due to cyclone Roanu, now finally glided into deep waters at 11.10 on Saturday. The 1,150 passengers and their relatives who came to see them off, heaved a sigh of relief. 

There was uncertainty over its sailing as the cyclone was still hovering over Bay of  Bengal, though far from the AP coast. The ship captain was firm on the safety of the passengers and refused to sail when the cyclone was still active. On Friday, the port authorities and district administration announced that the ship would depart in the evening but was advanced as the skies became clear.  

Some of the passengers who had no money for purchase of  food in the ship got down and left for their villages. The journey from Visakhapatnam to Port Blair takes around 60 hours and passengers said the private canteen inside the vessel charges  more than regular rates.

The Shipping Corporation of India operates five vessels to main land ports at Visakhapatnam, Kolkota and Chennai. On an average, vessels touch Visakhapatnam port once in a fortnight.