India has sent a specialized pollution response vessel, Samudra Prahari to augment pollution control efforts aftermath of the fire of the X Press Pearl vessel Indian high commission said. It will reach Colombo today and will begin pollution control efforts. Already Indian assets were deployed within hours from receiving the request from the Sri Lanka Navy for assistance on 25 May 2021. While ICG ships Vajra, Vaibhav and one CG Dornier are already part of the joint operation, – 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 the High Commission said in a press release.
The Indian side is guided by the Neighborhood First policy and remains committed to deepening cooperation with Sri Lanka in the sphere of disaster management and mitigation on the high seas and relevant coastal waters on basis of mutual respect and goodwill.
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has been, since the evening of 25 May 2021, carrying out joint fire fighting and pollution control efforts along with relevant Sri Lankan authorities including the Navy and Coast Guard, to stabilise the situation on the MV Xpress Pearl. 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. At present, heavy smoke is observed only near the accommodation/ Superstructure area in the 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.
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. The quantity of combustible material on board is estimated to be limited. 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. Aerial surveillance and assessment by (CGDO) have confirmed no leakage of fuel from the vessel so far. CG Dornier will continue to conduct a regular aerial assessment of the area for the oil spill.