Super tanker reignites as Govt. plans to lodge claim with insurer

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 01:06 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Indian Coast Guard Pollution Control vessel (CG202) Samudra Paheredar and tugs close in on super tanker MT New Diamond to douse the blaze after re-ignition occurred last afternoon - Pic by Indian Coast Guard 

  • Super tanker fire reignites due to heavy winds and intense heat: Navy
  • Disaster management, salvage experts called in by owners 
  • Govt. calls for stakeholder cost assessment to file interim insurance claim
  • MEPA appoints expert committee to assess environmental impact
  • New Diamond held at 30 nautical miles from coast, fire-fighting continues, another tug en route to assist

By Asiri Fernando

The fire onboard super tanker MT New Diamond reignited again yesterday, requiring continued support the Navy, Air Force, and Indian Coast Guard, as the Government worked to assess the damage caused to Sri Lanka and explore the possibility of filing a claim with the ship’s insurer.

The Government is assessing the cost incurred to the State and plans to file an interim claim with the New Diamond’s insurers this week, Maritime Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) Chairperson Dharshani Lahandapura told Daily FT. 

MEPA has also appointed a seven-member committee of experts made up from the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency, the Moratuwa University, and resident experts from MEPA, who will visit the coastal area and scene of the incident to collect samples and assess the impact on the marine environment. 

MEPA plans to submit an impact assessment report to the Attorney General once the test

results are studied by the team of experts. Lahandapura said that a timeline for the submission of the report cannot be specified at present, but that MEPA will deliver it as soon as possible.      

The second team of eleven disaster management specialists were also moved to a responding vessel at the scene of the New Diamond. The 20-year-old Panamanian-registered super tanker was carrying a consignment of 270,000 MT of crude oil for the Indian Oil Company from a port in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip when the fire broke out. The vessel is owned by the Liberian-based Porto Emporios Shipping Inc.

A small fleet of fourteen Sri Lankan, Indian, and commercial vessels, continue to battle fires aboard the New Diamond, which reignited after strong winds affected the heat within the superstructure last evening. The vessel is being held 30 nautical miles east of Sangamankanda Point, the Navy said. Sri Lanka Air Force and Indian Coast Guard aircraft are also continuing to support the mission.

According to the Navy, the fire had been extinguished on Sunday (6 September) evening. The firefighting teams had attempted to prevent re-ignition by directing fire smothering agents like chemical powder and foam onto the New Diamond. ”However, the strong winds reignited the fire by affecting the extreme temperature and sparks onboard,” the Navy said. 

Another ocean tug, the “Posh Commander”, called in by the New Diamond’s owners, is en route from Singapore to assist in the firefighting and salvage operation. The Posh Commander is expected to reach the scene on Friday (11 September), according to ship tracking data.