India’s Samudra Prahari – a specialized pollution response vessel is expected to arrive on Saturday to augment pollution control efforts

India on Saturday continued to stabilise the situation for the fifth day after an on board explosion on the Singapore-flagged cargo vessel.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has been carrying out joint firefighting and pollution control efforts along with relevant Sri Lankan authorities including Navy and Coast Guard, to stabilise the situation on the MV Xpress Pearl since the evening of May 25, 2021, said the Indian High Commission in a statement in Colombo.

The burden of these efforts has been to focus on preventing the spread of fire towards the vessel’s bow and thereby protecting anchor, cable-chain and other associated machinery in highly inclement weather, it added.

While ICG ships Vajra, Vaibhav and one CG Dornier are already part of the joint operation, India’s Samudra Prahari – a specialized pollution response vessel is expected to reach today to augment pollution control efforts.

According to the Indian High Commission, heavy smoke is observed at present only near accommodation or Superstructure area in aft portion of the ship and is being tackled.

Overall, the MV X Press Pearl is currently assessed as being stable and not having issues with watertight integrity, it noted.

The statement further stated that external fire-fighting using foam and boundary cooling by sea-water along the entire length of vessel from either side is under progress and continuous monitoring of vessel’s draught, list conditions and presence of hazardous and noxious substances overboard is being undertaken.

Noting that the quantity of combustible material on-board is estimated to be limited, it said, the ICG ships will continue to assess the situation and the decision to board or approach closer to the vessel will be taken after fully dousing the fire and undertaking sufficient boundary cooling.

Containers that fell from the vessel were identified and threat assessment for navigation safety have already been carried out and shared with relevant Sri Lankan authorities, the statement explained.

Aerial surveillance and assessment by (CGDO) has confirmed no leakage of fuel from the vessel so far, it observed.

CG Dornier will continue to conduct regular aerial assessment of the area for oil spill, the Indian High Commission statement further said.

It may be recalled that Indian assets were deployed within hours of receiving the request from the Sri Lanka Navy for assistance on May 25, 2021.

The joint India-Sri Lanka operation involves continuous liaison by the High Commission and ICG Headquarters with relevant stakeholders in Sri Lanka for providing recommendations on fire fighting and pollution control.