(VIDEO) MT New Diamond now 40 nautical miles away from SL Coast; Navy – FULL STORY

(VIDEO) MT New Diamond now 40 nautical miles away from SL Coast; Navy – FULL STORY

Written by Zulfick Farzan

05 Sep, 2020 | 1:46 pm

Colombo (News 1st); The continuous efforts of the Sri Lanka Navy and other stakeholders including the Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Coast Guard, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard, the fire aboard the MT New Diamond Crude Oil Tanker was contained and the ALP Winger tug was able to take the distressed oil tanker 40 nautical miles (about 74 km) away from the shore, confirmed the Sri Lanka Navy.

The distressed supertanker had reached about 20 nautical miles shore-wards on Friday (September 4, 2020) at 1800 hrs. 

Fire extinguishing efforts are underway and will continue throughout the whole day (05th September) on the location, said the Sri Lanka Navy.

There is a risk of occasional fires due to deep sea winds and such unexpected fires are being controlled by tugs and Indian Coast Guard ships deployed on the location and Helicopters are also used for these firefighting efforts.

As of now, 03 capital ships and 03 Fast Attack Craft of Sri Lanka Navy, 02 ships belonging to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard, 03 ships of Indian Coast Guard, 01 ship belonging to the Indian Navy, 02 tugs of Hambanthota International Port Group – Wasaba and Rawana, the ALP Winger tug made ready by the foreign company that owns the ship in distress , the TTT One tug with firefighting equipment and professionals have been engaged in the firefighting efforts further.

Meanwhile the MI 17 helicopter and the Beach Craft of the Sri Lanka Air Force are continuing their aerial operations to assist this combined disaster relief efforts.

In addition a Y-12 Aircraft of the Sri Lanka Air Force is also monitoring the situation from the air, and it was deployed from the Sri Lanka Air Force base in China Bay.

Air Force Spokesperson Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe speaking to News 1st said though the eternal blaze was contained, it is paramount to monitor any small or sudden fires on board the MT New Diamond.

In addition, two (02) Dornier aircraft belonging to the Indian Coast Guard have been stationed at the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport for emergency use.

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 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.

Furthermore, the fire on the ship has so far had no effect on the 270,000 metric tons of crude oil stored there and necessary steps are being taken to prevent the fire from spreading to those crude oil storage facilities.

Meanwhile, there is still no risk of the ship leaking oil into the ocean due to the unfortunate turn of events. However, 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 possible oil spill in future due to this disaster.

Sri Lankan authorities on Friday (Sep 04) revealed ‘MT New Diamond’ crude oil tanker which is a 330-metre (1,080-foot) vessel is owned by Liberia-based Porto Emporios Shipping Inc.

The Panamanian-registered vessel, which began burning on Thursday, is carrying about 270,000 tonnes of crude oil.

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.

The MT New Diamond oil tanker which was traveling 38 nautical miles from Sangaman Kanda Point under the Panama flag caught fire on Thurday (Sept 03).

Director General Operations of Sri Lanka Navy Rear Admiral Nandana Jayarathna on Friday (04) said the fire broke out in the ship’s engine room and spread to the ship’s administrative compartment which is known as the SuperStruckture, and the portion of the ship’s crude was safe.

“Crude oil transporting ships are watertight double-hulled and therefore damage to crude oil is minimum”, he said adding Sri Lanka Navy was trying to keep this area cool by pumping water regularly with Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) helicopter support.

He said compared to the prevailing situation of the tanker, there was no risk of an oil spill in the Sri Lankan waters as the ship was in 20 meters deep and away from 22 nautical miles away as of Friday (04) afternoon.

Speaking to reporters at the Department of Government Information on Friday (04) he said there were 23 people on board in the 20- year- old ship with a Japanese certificate and 19 of the crew were safe.

“One person was hospitalized with severe burn injuries. He is in a safe condition. However, one person ( a Filipino) in the engine room had been injured in the crash and his survival could not be expected,” he said.

Meanwhile, those who were in the ship were taken to another ship and the oil tanker is now floating towards the Southward of Sri Lanka.

Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Army Commander Lt Gen. Shavendra Silva also confirmed the ship was carrying 270,000 metric tons of crude oil in addition to the oil required to the oil tanker.

Sri Lanka Air Force Director (Operations) Air Vice Marshal Ravi Jayasinghe said SLAF had so far used over 100,000 liters of water on the ship while SLAF employed reconnaissance aircraft, MI 17 and Bell 212 helicopters to control the fire since yesterday”.

“If there is an oil leakage at sea, it would be one of the biggest disasters in the world. Therefore, the MEPA has sought support from regional countries to protect the sea since MEPA is not well-equipped to handle such a massive disaster alone. All available resources with us have already been placed in Kirinda, Hambanthota and Trincomalee,”said Marine Environment Authority (MEPA) Chairperson Darshani Lahandapura.

She further said that MEPA was ready to resort to legal action against the owner of the ship and get the compensation to the damage caused to the environment and fishing community in the case of oil spilling.


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