Written by Zulfick Farzan
04 Sep, 2020 | 12:49 pm
Colombo (News 1st); Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority said there is no oil leak from the Crude Oil Tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ which is currently ablaze in the seas off the Sangaman-kanda, in the east of the country.
General Manager of MEPA Dr. Turney Pradeep Kumara speaking to News 1st said the situation is monitored around the clock with the assistance of the Sri Lanka Air Force and Sri Lanka Navy.
During early hours on Friday (04) two explosions were reported from the distressed Crude Oil Tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ and Dr. Turney Pradeep Kumara said the ship is losing balance as a result of the explosions.
According to Indian Media, the Crude Oil Tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ was chartered by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
Sri Lanka Air Force said the distressed Crude Oil Tanker in eastern seas was manned by 23 crew members including 5 Greeks and 18 Philippine nationals.
Further, the tanker was transporting 270,000 metric tons of crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip, when it faced this unfortunate event.
It is also reported that 1700 metric tons of diesel required for the use of the tanker is also stored onboard.
Report of a death on-board :
One Filipino crew member of the Crude Oil Tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ was confirmed dead, after he was reported missing following the fire that erupted in the Panama-Registered oil tanker on Thursday (03) the Sri Lanka Navy said.
Navy Spokesperson Group Captain Indika De Silva speaking to News 1st said the death was confirmed from the statements recorded from the surviving crew members.
22 crew members of the Crude Oil Tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ were rescued and one of them, the third engineering officer of the ship was admitted to the Kalmunai hospital.
Navy Spokesperson Group Captain Indika De Silva said the other crew members are assisting the Sri Lanka Navy to contain the fire aboard the distressed the Crude Oil Tanker.
Fire Containment Efforts :
Speaking to News 1st he said the bridge of the Crude Oil Tanker is still on fire adding three vessels of the Sri Lankan Navy (Sayura, Sindurala, and Ranarisi) and two sent by India (“Shaurya” & INS ‘Sahyadri’) are trying their best to contain the fire in accommodation and superstructure, to prevent it from spreading to the cargo.
“Three tugs are trying to tow it further away from the coast,” Captain Indika de Silva said – 02 of the tug boats are from the Hambantota International Port (‘Rawana’ and ‘Wasamba’) while the other tug boat (ALP ‘Winger’) is from the Shipping Company.
A Sri Lanka Coast Guard Fast Attack Craft is en-route to the site with chemicals and other material to contain the fire from the Hambantota International Port, said the Navy Spokesperson, who stressed the Crude Oil Tanker is not sinking.
Sri Lanka Navy said Indian Coast Guard Ship “Shaurya” joined hands with the Sri Lanka Navy Ship ‘Sindurala’ in carrying out the cooling effect from both sides of the ship in distress.
Two Russian vessels, which were calling at the southern Hambantota Port, joined the rescue operation on Thursday but withdrew as their capacity to extinguish external fires was limited.
The fire started in a boiler in the engine room and then spread in the MT New Diamond, which was carrying 270,000 metric tons of crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip, spokesman Capt. Indika Silva said.
“#FireFighting in progress in consultation with Master of #MTNewDiamond onboard #ICG ship Shaurya along with Tug APL Winger. Additional #ICG ship Ameya & Abheek being deployed #today in PR configuration to augment efforts. 02 CG Dornier aircraft also being deployed for air efforts,” the Indian Coast Guard said in a tweet Friday morning.
On Thursday, the Sri Lanka Air Force responded to a distress signal received from the MT New Diamond.
The No 3 Maritime Squadron located at the SLAF Academy in China Bay promptly dispatched a Beech King B200 Aircraft.
The SLAF Beechcraft was the first to get to the location and provide live situational updates to the Sri Lanka Navy and other stakeholders of the situation.
In addition to the Beechcraft, an SLAF MI-17 helicopter was deployed on Thursday (03) to conduct “Bambi Bucket” operations.
The “Bambi Bucket” operation was conducted continuously until last light on Thursday (03).
At present the SLAF Beechcraft is continuing aerial surveillance of the situation while an MI-17 helicopter is conducting “Bambi Bucket” operations continue to support efforts of dousing the fire, said Sri Lanka Air Force Spokesman Group, Captain Dushan Wijesinghe.
A Dornier aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard also monitored the disaster situation from the air.
Sri Lanka Navy, the Sri Lanka Coast Guard, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, and the Marine Environment Protection Authority and other stakeholders are geared up to take necessary steps to mitigate and manage the risk of the possible oil spill in the future due to this disaster.
The distressed oil tanker is now at sea at a depth of 3100 meters, about 25 nautical miles (approximately 50 km) off the shore by 5.00 a.m. on Friday (04) morning.
Further, 03 main ships of the Sri Lanka Navy, 02 Fast Attack Craft, 01 Indian Coast Guard Ship, 01 Indian Navy Ship and 03 tugs are near the distressed vessel at 5.30 a.m on Friday (04) morning.
The superstructure at the rear of the ship is still on fire and it has not affected the ship’s crude storage area.
After having studied the structure of the ship, the firefighting will be carried out by naval teams with expertise in maritime firefighting with the consultation of the Greek captain of the ship.
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