Major ecological disaster averted by Indian Navy, CG: IOC after fire on oil vessel doused
IN A massive effort, Indian Navy and Coast Guard in association with Sri Lankan Navy averted a major environmental disaster when they put out a fire onboard a fully laden Indian Oil Corp (IOC) chartered super tanker, saving the entire cargo and preventing an oil spill.
“This is a story of great coordination and superb multi-disciplinary efforts. Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy alongside Sri Lankan Navy have successfully put out the fire on New Diamond vessel,” said Shrikant Madhav Vaidya, chairman of Indian Oil Corp (IOC).
The New Diamond -- a 20-year old very large crude carrier (VLCC) controlled by New Shipping -- was carrying around 2,70,000 tonnes of Kuwaiti crude from Mina-Al-Ahmadi to Paradip in Odisha when it caught fire in the engine room early on September 3, close to 38 nautical miles off Sri Lanka’s east coast.
“The fire has been doused and the 2 million barrels (2,70,000 tonnes) crude cargo is safe,” he said. “It was a tremendous effort by Indian and Sri Lankan Navies and Coast Guards which pressed multiple ships and aircraft into service.” A major ecological disaster was in offing if the cargo had caught fire or the oil spilled into the sea. Of the 22 personnel on board, 21 were rescued, he said.
“The entire cargo was saved,” he said. “Imagine the environmental disaster that would have happened if the two million barrels of crude oil on the ship would have caught fire or spilled into the sea”. The coordinated fire-fighting and rescue effort helped avert a Mauritius-like disaster where a Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio struck a coral reef off the Indian Ocean Island on July 25, and began spilling oil August 6. “Thankfully, the cargo of crude oil is intact. We have averted an environmental disaster,” he said. Vaidya said a salvage team is now inspecting the ship for the damage and would decide on the future course of action including towing the vessel to a location for the transfer of crude oil to another ship for onward movement to Paradip.