The fire on the oil tanker MT New Diamond broke out in the engine room early morning on September 3

The fire on oil tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ off the east coast of Sri Lanka has finally been put out, thanks to the joint efforts by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard. India also helped with the towing away of the ship from the coast to prevent casualties, in what is the latest example of its efforts to reach out to and offer a helping hand to its immediate neighbours.

The completion of the operation was announced by the Indian Coast Guard on Twitter. The Coast Guard wrote, “#FireFighting With efforts of #ICG and SL Ships, Tugs and Aircraft fire appears to be doused. No flame & smoke visible on #MTNewDiamond. Situation being monitored for further action. Continuous boundary cooling in progress with use of AFFF & water spraying.”

Lauding and appreciating India’s efforts in dousing the fire, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the timely action ensured safety of the crew and contained the damage.

On his Twitter handle, he wrote, “I thank the @srilanka_navy, @airdorcelk, #SLPA, the #Indian naval force & others involved, for taking swift action to manage the fire aboard the oil tanker, MT-new diamond. Timely action has ensured the safety of the crew & contained the potential damage to marine life.”

The fire on the oil tanker MT New Diamond broke out in the engine room early morning on September 3. When the fire started, the container was 65 kilometres east of Sri Lanka’s Sangaman Kanda Point. The rescue and firefighting operation started immediately with India sending its personnel and equipment to assist the Sri Lankan Navy in their operations.

The Indian Navy wrote on Twitter, “Fire reported onboard VLCC #MTNewDiamond off the coast of Sri Lanka. #IndianNavy ships Mission Deployed in the area, diverted to undertake rescue ops & render assistance.”

The Navy also shared the updates of the operation and rescue work in a series of tweets.

On September 4, the Indian Navy wrote, “#INSSahyadri as the On Scene Commander coordinating the firefighting efforts with @IndiaCoastGuard assets in close liaison with Sri Lanka Authorities.”

Updating about the towing away of the ship from the port to the deep sea, it wrote, “#INSSahyadri as the On Scene Commander, reports Joint team connected tow with Tug Alp Winger & towing of #MTNewDiamond commenced. Heavy smoke still observed onboard.”

In another tweet, it wrote, “Ship towed 70 km away from Sri Lankan coast. Flames on superstructure & heavy smoke emanating from funnel. Tug Alp Winger handing over tow to Tug TTT1 & joining fire-fighting efforts.”

After some tweets, on September 6, it finally wrote, “Fire under control’, providing a sigh of relief to the concerned.

The oil tanker was carrying 2,70,000 metric tonnes of crude oil from Kuwait to India. The fire was started after an explosion in the engine room in which a Filipino sailor lost his life, the Sri Lankan media confirmed on September 4.

This is not the first time that India has rushed to help its neighbours at the time of an emergency. In fact, last month, when the beaches of Mauritius faced a major oil spill, India offered an instant help to the island nation.

External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar wrote on Twitter, “# SAGAR Policy at work. To assist Mauritius in its ongoing #oilspill containment & salvage operations, an IAF aircraft has just landed in Port Louis with 30T of specialised equipment along with a 10-member technical Response Team from @IndiaCoastGuard.”

Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) policy of India on maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region. Indian leaders have time and again reiterated that India is concerned and committed to its neighbours.