A container ship was still seen emitting smoke today despite an Indian Air Force chopper having put off its fire yesterday, a Defence official said. The smoke was seen billowing out of MV SSL Kolkata today during a visual recce by the Coast Guard aircraft, he added. “A recce by a Coast Guard Dornier aircraft this morning revealed that smoke continues to emanate though there is no visible flame,” Defence spokesperson Wing Commander S S Birdi said. The Coast Guard has again flown a Dornier aircraft to carry out a visual assessment of the situation on the ship this evening, which was anchored about 8 nautical miles from Sunderbans. An Air Force Mi-17 helicopter has been stationed at Frazerganj harbour helipad, the nearest possible location to the vessel “in case there is a requirement to once again carry out the dousing operations,” he said.
A Coast Guard spokesperson said “no oil spill has been observed around the vessel.” The spokesperson said the Coast Guard ships are maintaining round the clock vigil in the vicinity of SSL Kolkata. “Four hovercraft at Frazerganj and two Coast Guard ships in Haldia are on standby for any support and, particularly pollution response, if situation arises,” the spokesperson said. The fire that was reported around 11 pm on June 14.
An Mi-17 V5 helicopter of the Air Force had poured 15,000 litres of water on the burning ship yesterday from a Bambi bucket in six shuttles. A marine commando of the Navy and three members of the crew dropped the starboard anchor of the vessel on Saturday in a daring operation after they were winched down on the blazing ship from a Seaking 42C helicopter to arrest its drift towards the International Maritime Border Line with Bangladesh.
The spot was eight nautical miles off the Sunderbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. MV SSL Kolkata was abandoned by its captain and 21 other crew members after 70 per cent of the ship carrying containerised cargo went on fire in the Bay of Bengal, about 55 nautical miles from Sagar Island in West Bengal. The 148-metre-long ship was carrying 464 containers and 211 metric tonnes of heavy fuel on board and caught fire while sailing from Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to Haldia port, according to the Coast Guard.