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Indian Ocean - Boarding Burning Oil Tanker Saved Marine Environment: Coast Guard

The Coast Guard on Saturday recalled how the raging fire was put out on the very large crude carrier (VLCC) carrying 300,000 tonnes of Kuwaiti crude bound for Paradip port.

Chennai: Boarding the burning as well as intermittently exploding 'MT New Diamond' - a very large oil tanker holding about 300,000 tonnes of crude - and connecting it to a tow to arrest its drift towards the Sri Lankan coast and positioning it into the wind was the turning point in saving the tanker as well as the marine environment, said the Indian Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard on Saturday recalled how the raging fire was put out on the very large crude carrier (VLCC) carrying 300,000 tonnes of Kuwaiti crude bound for Paradip port.

In the process it averted a serious disaster in the region which otherwise would have threatened the bio-diversified marine environment of Sri Lanka, Maldives and southern India.

"Compared with the recent oil-spill mishap of 1000 T Bunker Oil from MV Wakashio witnessed off Mauritius in August 2020 that led to declaration of 'National Emergency' by the island nation, the quantum of crude in this incident was 270 times more voluminous. It is left to the imagination that how devastating an oil spill of this high magnitude would have been for the region," the Coast Guard said.

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.

According to the Coast Guard, the vessel with 23 crew reported a major explosion in its engine room - boiler explosion - while it was on its way to the port in Odisha. The ship apparently had about 1,700 tonnes of fuel when it caught fire.

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