New Delhi: As oil tanker MT New Diamond continues to burn off the Sri Lankan coast, posing grave damage to the environment and maritime ecosystem in the region, Indian maritime agencies have risen to the occasion and are heading the effort to control the disaster relief.
As of Friday evening, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has deployed six ICG ships and two aircraft for fire fighting and pollution response. “Marine pollution response and containment equipment along with oil spill dispersants mobilised in event of pollution,” Coast Guard said in a statement.
VLCC carrying 2 million barrels of oil
As reported earlier, MT New Diamond is a very large crude carrier (VLCC) which is carrying over 2 million barrels of oil. It was heading towards Paradip Port in India and was slated to reach Paradip by September 5.
The fire started in the engine room of the mammoth ship, sailing under Panama flag, on Thursday morning 37 nautical miles off the Sri Lankan coast. The Sri Lankan maritime agencies were pressed into action and help was sought from India.
In the first response, the Indian Coast Guard dispatched ICG ships Shaurya, Sarang, Samudra Paheredar and Dornier aircraft for the relief operation.
The vessel has developed a two-metre-long crack
According to news agency IANS, the vessel has been chartered by Indian Oil Corp (IOC). What has worried researchers and maritime observers is the fact that the Indian Coast Guard observed a two-metre-long crack near the Port aft portion, 10 metres above the waterline. It is not established whether the cargo has caught fire.
“What is not clear is if any of the cargo tanks are affected, or it could be just the ship bunker fuel tanks,” M Kalayanaraman, Technical Editor, Riviera Maritime Media told IANS.
If the crack propagates, and there is every likelihood of that and cannot be predicted, then the stability of the ship could be affected. A ship standstill is still subjected to tremendous stresses and could break and capsize,” he further said.
The vessel’s weight is 2.99 lakh ton and it measures 333 metres and its width is 60 metres.
#WATCH Fire fighting operations underway at Sri Lankan oil tanker 'MT New Diamond' & is being coordinated by INS Sahyadri, the On-Scene Commander along with Indian Coast Guard assets, in close liaison with Sri Lankan Authorities. pic.twitter.com/uEvm8CSIIv
— ANI (@ANI) September 4, 2020