Salvage work begins on fire-hit VLCC New Diamond

Photo: Sri Lankan Navy
Photo: Sri Lankan Navy

Salvage teams from the Sri Lankan Navy are currently assessing the burned-out very large crude carrier (VLCC) New Diamond, having boarded the Panamanian-flagged vessel for the first time after a fire that had raged for days was finally extinguished.

The salvors said repairs have been completed on an onboard fuel oil tank that had suffered a leak in the aftermath of the September 3 incident wherein an explosion occurred in the vessel's engine room.

The explosion that led to the massive blaze had also ended up killing one Filipino crewman and injuring another.

The repairs on the ruptured fuel tank took priority over all other salvage work on New Diamond after long trails of diesel were spotted on the surface of the water shortly after the tanker was taken under tow.

The Indian Navy had recommended that the tanker be first towed to an available port for debunkering as a ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of oil on the high seas would be hampered by bad weather.

New Diamond, which is presently in the Indian Ocean around 100 kilometres off the coast of Sri Lanka, will be towed to a port that the salvage team will recommend for the STS operation.

S.M. Vaidya, chairman of New Diamond's charterer Indian Oil Corporation, said that the decision on the recommended port will be made within the next few days when the salvage work on the vessel is expected to be complete.

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Baird Maritime / Work Boat World