The SSL Kolkata burns off Kolkata port. Photo taken approximately June 14, 2018. Photo: Indian Coast Guard
Things are not looking up for an Indian containership which suffered an explosion and fire more than three weeks ago in the Bay of Bengal off the east coast of India.
Shreyas Shipping and Logistics, which operates the vessel, reports the vessel is now aground and more explosions have been heard on board the ship as the fire continues to burn.
The incident started on June 13 when an explosion rocked the cargo area of the SS Kolkata, causing a major fire which spread to other containers.
All 22 crew members abandoned the ship unharmed, leaving the vessel adrift off Sandheads near port Kolkata port.
An update over the weekend from Shreyas said the vessel grounded in ‘shallow water and soft mud’ some 7.5 nautical miles off the Indian Sunderbans, Kolkata in West Bengal. However, explosions continue to be reported on board and the vessel has now developed a starboard list, complicating the salvage.
“The vessel remains in position Latitude 21 degrees 26.5’N, Longitude 088 degrees 46.4’E, aground in shallow water and soft mud. The international salvors, M/s. SMIT, have reported that further explosions have been heard from the stand-by vessel Lewek Altair, and that SSL Kolkata has developed a list to starboard with the deck now part submerged,” Shreyas said in its 2 July 2018 update.
“The removal of bunker fuel and cargo remain a priority and the salvors and authorities are making every effort in this regard. Several support vessels are standing by for the observation and potential anti-pollution dutue, with the primary aim of protecting the marine environment and preventing any pollution from cargo of fuel oil,” the update said.
So far there have been no reports of fuel oil released, but plans and assets are being put in place to address this ‘eventuality’.
“Shreyas takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and will make every effort to ensure that this situation is brought to a safe and timely conclusion, despite the very challenging monsoon season conditions which are currently being faced.”
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