‘IOC chartered oil tanker fire to be put out first’

Chennai, Sep 5 : With the fire on board New Diamond, the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) chartered near fully loaded oil tanker reduced and the vessel towed away to safe waters, the next course of action will start after the fire is put out and ensured reignition doesn’t happen, said a central government official.

“The immediate task on hand is to put out the fire and ensure that there is no reingnition. Only after that the various suitable action options will be considered,” the official told IANS preferring anonymity.

According to him, once the fire is totally put out then a team of experts would study the vessel condition in totality including its engine.

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“There have been instances where an explosion and fire had raged in the engine room of a ship. But later it was found the engine was in good condition,” he said.

The official said the decision on whether to tow the vessel, if so to where or whether to transfer the crude to another oil tanker mid-sea (double banking-ship to ship transfer) will be decided after the New Diamond’s condition is ascertained and the vessel is stabilised.

It should be noted that the vessel is undergoing a severe stress due to fire and there is also a two metre crack on its Port aft portion or the back side.

An official of Indian Coast Guard had told IANS that the crack has not grown further.

The decisions after putting out the fire will be taken carefully and not in a hurry.

On the expenses incurred in the search and rescue operations of the New Diamond chartered by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) the official said those things will come up later.

The 20-year-old VLCC New Diamond, sailing under the Panama flag, was on fire since Thursday morning, about 37 nautical miles off the Sri Lankan coast and in the Sri Lankan Exclusive Economic Zone.

The fire was brought under control on Friday evening and the vessel was towed to safe waters with the coordinated actions of Lankan and Indian Coast Guard ships.

As per www.marinetraffic.com, the New Diamond oil tanker departed from Mina Al Ahmadi 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.

The Coast Guard said the Sri Lankan Navy had sought assistance to fight the fire and the explosion on board the New Diamond.

Meanwhile, officials of IOC remained silent and were not available for comment.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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