X-Press Pearl: Salvage operation launched to retrieve debris

X-Press Pearl: Salvage operation launched to retrieve debris

X-Press Pearl: Salvage operation launched to retrieve debris

Written by Zulfick Farzan

06 Dec, 2021 | 9:30 am

COLOMBO (News 1st); Sri Lanka has launched an operation to retrieve the freight containers and other debris resting on the ocean floor, following the X-Press Pearl disaster, earlier this year.

Chairperson of the Marine Environment Protection Authority Attorney-at-Law Darshani Lahandapura told News 1st that the custodian of the vessel is engaged in the salvage operation.

Incident Overview:

On May 20, 2021, 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 provided 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 on board were ongoing with firefighting tugs, the Sri Lankan Navy, and the Indian coastguard remaining on scene.

An inspection team was 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 from SMIT Salvage subsequently boarding the vessel on June 2 and attaching a tow wire, efforts to move the ship to deeper waters failed, and the ship’s 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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