A Paddle Steamer built in 1944 in UK’s Dumbarton Shipyard, named ‘P S Bhopal’ of length of about 63m and breadth of 9.2m was being used as a training vessel by Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata (erstwhile Kolkata Port Trust) at No.22 KPD. With the completion of the lease agreement with the Training Institute in the year 2019, SMP Kolkata wanted to refurbish this vessel which has a heritage value and open it to 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.
Long term lease was selected through open tendering with the condition that the vessel will remain a property of SMP Kolkata throughout the period of the lease.
As per the lease condition, ‘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, small assembly etc.
The said vessel is in the verge of Completion and few trials in the river have taken place to ensure its safety of operation with passengers on board.
SMP Kolkata is planning to inaugurate the said refurbished vessel, the first of its kind in the Indian subcontinent beginning of next month, according to Shri Vinit Kumar, Chairman, SMP Kolkata.
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.