The fire-stricken tanker, New Diamond, is now bound for an offshore oil terminal at Kandla Port Trust, according to Indian media. After a long tow around India’s coastline, her cargo of crude oil will be discharged safely, reducing environmental risk and moving the salvage process forward.
The New Diamond has been drifting off Sri Lanka and awaiting a port of refuge for more than two weeks. A fire broke out in her engine room on the morning of September 3, and it burned throughout the deckhouse before it was extinguished September 6.
It reignited the next day and burned until September 9, when it was declared out for a second time.
According to the Sri Lankan Navy, the vessel is in stable condition and there is no risk of a spill. However, the vessel released a limited quantity of fuel oil into the water during firefighting, enough to form a sheen behind the vessel when she was taken under tow. The Sri Lankan Navy treated the pollution with dispersants.
Shipowner Porto Emporios Shipping Inc. has agreed to pay $1.8 million to the government of Sri Lanka for services rendered in fighting the fire aboard the New Diamond. A second claim for services in the amount of about $500,000 is expected soon.
The services rendered included 176 Sri Lanka Airforce flight missions with over 100 hours of flight time. In all, Sri Lankan pilots delivered 440,000 liters of water and 4,500 kilograms of dry chemical powder onto the tanker over the course of the firefighting effort.
Sri Lanka’s attorney general has also signaled an intent to pursue criminal negligence charges against the vessel’s master in connection with the fire. New Diamond’s captain has been held along with the rest of the crew in quarantine, and he is scheduled to appear in court for an initial hearing.