Coast Guard ships to escort fire-stricken oil tanker MT New Diamond

Chennai, Oct 5 (IANS) Three Indian Coast Guard vessels, with pollution control facilities, will escort fire-stricken very large crude carrier (VLCC) MT New Diamond under tow, the coastal security agency said on Monday.

It is also learnt the Coast Guard has prepared its bill towards expenses incurred by it by deploying its various assets in dousing the raging fire on New Diamond.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said: “Indian Coast Guard Pollution Control Vessels Samudra Pavak and Samudra Praheri with integral helicopter and Shaunak with pollution response gears deployed to escort MT New Diamond under tow at high seas.”

According to the Coast Guard, the ships will provide “preventive pollution response cover” in case of any oil leakage contingency during New Diamond’s passage to Fujairah in the UAE as it remains committed to ensure preservation and protection of marine environment and ocean.

A Coast Guard official told IANS that the Indian vessels will escort the oil tanker till the edges of Indian Exclusive Economic Zone and also ensure Indian islands are safe from oil spill pollution.

The oil tanker caught fire on September 3 after an explosion in its engine room, 37 nautical miles off the Sri Lankan coast.

The 20-year-old VLCC, sailing under the Panama flag, departed from Kuwait’s Mina Al Ahmadi on August 23 and was headed for India’s Paradip port in Odisha, which it was expected to reach on September 5.

The Coast Guard deployed its ships and aircrafts in dousing the fire.

Queried about the expenses incurred by Coast Guard and whether a claim has been preferred with the ship’s owner, a Coast Guard official told IANS that a bill has been prepared and submitted to the Central government.

It is for the Central government to decide on the future course of action as the request for help to douse the fire came to the Indian government from the Sri Lankan government, the official added.

–IANS

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