Court orders to seize custody of X-Press Pearl

Court orders to seize custody of X-Press Pearl

Court orders to seize custody of X-Press Pearl

Written by Zulfick Farzan

07 Oct, 2021 | 6:21 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st); The Colombo Commercial High Court on Thursday (7) ordered the Colombo Harbour Master to immediately seize custody of the X-Press Pearl wreck, not far from Sri Lanka’s West Coast.

The order was made after considering a case filed by Trico Maritime (Pvt) Ltd, Colombo.

Trico Maritime (Pvt) Ltd noted that a consignment of goods it ordered from the Middle East was being transported in the ill-fated vessel.

It added that the owners of the X-Press Pearl should either transfer the custody of the goods to them or provide them with compensation.

Trico Maritime (Pvt) Ltd noted that the owners of the X-Press Pearl had failed to provide compensation to the loss of USD 600,000/- incurred by them.

Incident Overview:

On May 20, 2021, the Singapore -flagged Containership, ‘X-Press Pearl’ reported smoke from the cargo hold while at Colombo anchorage, Sri Lanka.

On May 21, the vessel reported fire on deck. Firefighting tugs were deployed by the port authority and a helicopter providing support to help fight the fire. The ship’s crew assisted with boundary cooling of the area.

On May 22, the sound of an explosion was heard in cargo hold #2.

Tugs continued the firefighting operation with Posh Teal, Posh Hardy, Megha, Hercules, Mahawewa deployed.

12 crew members disembarked from the vessel on May 23 to make way for a 12-person firefighting team. The firefighting team continued the operation in conjunction with water spraying tugs on site.

By May 24, the fire had intensified and was spreading toward the aft of the vessel.

A further and louder explosion was heard on May 25, and as a prudent measure, it was decided to evacuate all 13 crew and the firefighting team of 12.

The crew and firefighting team were transferred to a quarantine facility ashore.

Firefighting tugs were operating on-site throughout May 26, with the assistance of Sri Lankan Navy helicopters and vessels and two Indian Coastguard vessels.

On May 27, efforts to extinguish the fire onboard were ongoing with firefighting tugs, the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian coastguard remaining on scene.

An inspection team were able to board the vessel on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 1, and reported the engine room flooded.

There are concerns over the amount of water in the hull and its effect on the ship’s stability.

Efforts to make a connection for towing failed after several attempts due to the tug’s movement caused by the swell. The operation was aborted for safety reasons.

Despite salvors subsequently boarding the vessel on June 2 and attaching a tow wire, efforts to move the ship to deeper waters failed, and the ships aft portion sank to the bottom at a depth of 21 meters.

Oil Spill Response Limited is appointed to respond to any possible spill and is liaising with ITOPF, who will provide technical expertise.

The ship eventually settled in the seabed off Sri Lankan shores.

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