Chennai, Sep 7 (IANS) The ships and tugs of the Indian Coast Guard and Sri Lankan Navy continue their efforts to douse the very large crude carrier (VLCC) ‘New Diamond’, which is on fire for the fifth day battling against inclement weather.
The Indian Coast Guard on Monday said intense and persistent fire fighting efforts continued last night despite the inclement weather and strong winds.
The Indian and Sri Lankan ships and tugs on ‘New Diamond’ ensured keeping the fire restricted to the accommodation area and away from the cargo.
According to the Indian Coast Guard, the battle to douse the fire in the burning oil tanker is being done by spraying foam and water for boundary cooling.
Though the fire was doused on Sunday, it later got reignited — second time since the oil tanker loaded with about 3,00,000 ton of the Kuwaiti crude for the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) caught fire on September 3 morning off the Sri Lankan coast.
A Coast Guard official told IANS that the fire on one of the ready to use fuel tanks was put out once, but the second tank got ignited later.
A Coast Guard official had earlier told IANS that the ship’s fuel is on fire.
The ship apparently had about 1,700 ton of fuel when it caught fire on Thursday morning.
The 20-year-old very large crude carrier (VLCC), sailing under the Panama flag, reported fire on-Board on Thursday when it was about 37 nautical miles off the coast in Sri Lankan Exclusive Economic Zone.
Later the burning tanker was towed away to prevent drifting to shallow waters.
The ‘New Diamond’ oil tanker departed from Mina Al Ahmadi, Kuwait on August 23 and was headed to India’s Paradip port.
The oil tanker was expected to reach Paradip in Odisha on September 5 where the IOC has a large refinery.
According to the Coast Guard, the vessel reported a major explosion in its engine room while it was on its way to Pradip in Odisha where the IOC has a large refinery.
The first information about the vessel fire was received at the Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Mumbai.
Soon the Indian Coast Guard mobilised several of its assets from different locations and sent them to the scene of action.
“Fighting a ship fire on mid sea is not an easy task and more so in the case of an engine room fire. The engine room is located at the bottom of the oil tanker. The ships that are involved in fire fighting throw foam and water from the top and it has to reach the location of the fire,” the Coast Guard official had told IANS.
The official said taking some days to put out a fire on a burning ship in mid sea is nothing unusual and also reignition as the metal structure in the vessel will be very hot.
The Coast Guard had earlier observed a two-metre crack near the port aft portion of New Diamond, 10 metres above the waterline.
A Coast Guard official told IANS that the crack has not grown further.
Meanwhile, officials of the IOC were not available for comment to clarify on the value of the cargo and other aspects.