Indian Coast Guard and Sri Lankan Air Force launch joint operations

by Editorial

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and Sri Lankan Air Force launched an operation towards fire fighting and consequential pollution response for MT New Diamond off Sri Lankan coast on 3 September. A bilateral MoU also exists between Indian and Sri Lankan governments covering co-operation in the Marine pollution Response domain. MT New Diamond is currently being held by Tug TTT1 in position about 40 miles from the nearest coast off Sri Lanka for preventing drifting of the vessel ashore and facilitating fire-fighting operation both by ships and aircraft, including logistics ease.

INDIAN COAST GUARD

The proactive and sustained firefighting efforts by ICG Ships Sujay, Shaurya, Sarang and specialised ICG Pollution Response Vessel Samudra Paheredar along with Sri Lankan Ships and tugs ensured that the fire was doused. The ICG Ships have been monitoring the situation closely. No flame/smoke has been observed since yesterday evening. No significant list is observed. MT New Diamond continues to be trimmed by aft by about one metre. Efforts are on to get the ship on even keel with the assistance of the salvors. A minor oil sheen was sighted aft (rear) of MT New Diamond PM 8 September, which was part of the unburnt oil/oil mixed with water, in the ships engine room, which escaped during the explosion onboard. ICG Dornier aircraft was launched in pollution response configuration for spray of Oil Spill Dispersant (OSD) to disintegrate the sheen. The Dornier was also launched to spray OSD and the ships were used to churn the waters to accelerate the disintegration of the oil sheen. CG Dornier 775 continues to operate from Mattala, Sri Lanka, in PR configuration. CG Helicopter ex-ICGS Sarang is being launched regularly for aerial recce and assessment of the situation.

SRI LANKAN AIR FORCE

The salvage team which boarded the vessel has intimated that there are no hotspots, flames/smoke onboard and there is no breach of tanks. Naval Architect in salvage team has confirmed that the ships stability is within the safe zone. Continuous liaison and co-ordination is being maintained with Sri Lankan Navy/Coast Guard and other authorities for augmentation and effective response. The SLAF responded to the distress signal received from the MT New Diamond, an oil tanker sailing 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point east of Sri Lanka. The No 3 Maritime Squadron located at the SLAF Academy in China Bay promptly dispatched a Beech King B200 Aircraft.

The SLAF Beechcraft was the first to get to the location and provide live situational updates to the SL Navy and other stake holders of the situation.

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.In addition to the Beechcraft, an SLAF MI-17 helicopter was deployed to conduct “Bambi Bucket” operations. The “Bambi Bucket” operation was conducted continuously until last light yesterday evening. At present the SLAF Beechcraft is continuing the aerial surveillance of the situation while an MI-17 helicopter is conducting “Bambi Bucket” operations continuously to support efforts of dousing the fire.

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