Written by Zulfick Farzan
05 Sep, 2020 | 8:56 pm
Colombo (News 1st); At the intervention of the owner of the ship (Porto Emporios Shipping Inc) 10 British and Netherlands experts including rescue operation specialists, disaster evaluators and legal consultants will be arriving at the Mattala International Airport on Sunday (06th September) morning.
This team of experts is scheduled to be transferred by a Sri Lanka Navy Fast Attack Craft from Kalmunei to the sea area where the distressed vessel, Crude Oil Tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ is currently at.
The distressed vessel is now about 40 nautical miles (about 74 km) away from the shore and Sri Lanka Navy and other stakeholders, including the Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Coast Guard, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard, continue to engage in firefighting and inflict cooling effect on fire-stricken oil tanker using fire extinguishing chemicals and water, at peak of their efficiency.
Meanwhile, two (02) more Indian Coast Guard Ships – Ameya and Abheek joined the consolidated operation on Saturday (05th September) afternoon.
Sri Lanka Navy said during the morning hours of Saturday (05th September) the sea area where the distressed vessel is remaining was rough and there was an increase in the speed of the sea breeze.
However, the disaster relief operation continued in such circumstances the whole day to bring the blaze under control, reaffirmed the Sri Lanka Navy.
Considering this calamity as an urgent matter of national importance the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (5000 L), Hambantota International Port Group (4600 L), Colombo Dockyard Limited (1000 L), Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (2100 L), Indian Oil Corporation (3000 L) and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Limited (2800 L) provided AFFF fire extinguishing chemicals to the Navy through the mediation of Marine Environment Protection Authority.
According to the Indian Coast Guard, ICG Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) Ameya with 1,000 liters oil spill dispersant, arrived at the area, on Saturday evening to augment pollution response efforts.
Another FPV Abheek with 40 drums (200 kg each) aqueous film forming foam concentrate (AFFF), 10 units of DCP (50 Kg each) and 20 barrels (50 kg each) of dry chemical powder (DCP) had also joined in.
Owing to intense and continuous fire-fighting, the fire has been localized at Port Bridge Deck and Aft Ready Use tank area.
Apart from the missing seaman who is believed to be dead, the one undergoing treatment at hospital and distressed ship’s captain rest of crew (20) are currently safe onboard Sri Lanka Navy ships in isolation and arrangements will be made for them to be reunited with their families by telephone on Sunday.
The seaman (Filipino) at the Kalmunai Hospital was subject to a PCR test on Friday (04) and he tested Negative for the Coronavirus.
In the meantime, 03 capital ships and 03 Fast Attack Craft of Sri Lanka Navy, 02 ships belonging to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard, 05 ships of Indian Coast Guard, 01 ship belonging to the Indian Navy, 02 tugs of Hambantota International Port Group – Wasaba and Rawana, the ALP Winger tug and the TTT One tug with firefighting equipment and professionals are being engaged in the firefighting efforts as of now.
Apart from that, the MI 17 helicopter and the Beach Craft of the Sri Lanka Air Force also rendered assistance to this combined disaster relief efforts in the daytime.
As of Saturday (05) morning, two (02) Dornier aircraft belonging to the Indian Coast Guard were stationed at the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport for emergency use.
One of them left for India again after observing the current condition of the ship and disseminating information to the operation’s crew.
Furthermore, the other Dornier is still engaged in surveillance in the area.
The owner of the ship has taken steps to appoint a foreign private company with expertise in disaster relief and the agency is working closely with the Sri Lankan and Indian authorities as well, confirmed the Sri Lanka Navy,
The Sri Lanka Navy and disaster mitigation operations teams have successfully controlled the spread of the fire on the ship and there is no danger of the ship leaking oil into the sea.
MT New Diamond, an oil tanker sailing 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point east of Sri Lanka issued a distress signal on3rd September 2020.
The No 3 Maritime Squadron located at the Sri Lanka Air Force Academy in China Bay promptly dispatched a Beech King B200 Aircraft.
The distressed 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.
MT New Diamond is a 20-year old crude oil tanker that is 333 meters long and 60 meters wide, and sailed with a Japanese certificate and is registered in Panama.
The continuous cooling effect during the disaster relief operation has controlled the fire-spread and approaching of the flames to the crude oil store of MT New Diamond. As a result, there is no risk of an oil spill so far, confirmed the Sri Lanka Navy.
Sri Lanka Air Force said it’s Mi-17 Helicopter which is full time engaged in battling the blaze at the MT New Diamond and at present dumped more than 340,000 litres of waters.
SLAF said this helicopter only returns to base to refuel and commences operations from 05:30 AM until last light.
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