Situation of SSL Kolkata Being Monitored Continuously: Govt

New Delhi, Jun 18 (PTI) The Directorate General of Shipping is continuously monitoring the situation and providing guidance to secure merchant ship SSL Kolkata, which suffered an explosion last week, the government said today.

No loss of life has been reported due to the fire on the ship, it said in a statement.

A global salvage company - Smith International, Singapore - has been engaged to rescue the ship.

"The Directorate General of Shipping is continuously monitoring the situation and providing guidance for securing the estranged ship SSL Kolkata near West Bengal coast, 10 miles away from the Sundarbans. Internationally renowned salvage company Smith International, Singapore - has been engaged for salvaging the ship," Ministry of Shipping said in the statement.

However, salvage operations are held up due to adverse weather and sea conditions, it said, adding that the salvers have reached Kolkota and the operation will commence once the weather condition improves.

The communication centre of the Directorate General of Shipping - DGComcentre, had received a call on the June 13th night from the merchant container ship, stating that the vessel had an explosion in a cargo hold and containers were on fire and requested for assistance.

"The vessel had 22 crew members and was carrying 464 containers (613 TEUs) from Krishnapatnam port, Andhra Pradesh to Kolkata port, West Bengal. Immediately the DGComcentre alerted MRCC Haldia and all concerned authorities of the Directorate General of Shipping, Coast Guard and Kolkata Port Trust to provide necessary assistance to vessel's Master and crew," the statement said.

It said the situation was reviewed and the Kolkata Port Trust and Indian Coast Guard were requested to render full support to the vessel for dousing the fire, save lives and prevent pollution from the ship.

"The vessel master and crew abandoned the ship due to uncontrollable fire onboard the ship and the Indian Coast Guard rescued the entire crew and brought them to Haldia by their vessel ICGS Rajkiran," the statement said.

The government said Principal Officer, Mercantile Marine Department, Kolkata had convened a meeting with the representatives of Kolkata Port Trust, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, the Indian Register of Shipping (the Classification Society of the vessel SSL Kolkata) and ship owner and had taken measures to coordinate and ensure that the ship does not drift towards Sunderbans and Bangaladesh waters.

The Indian Navy accordingly led an operation on June 16 and Navy commandos and 3 crew were flown by helicopter sea king and boarded the vessel safely and anchored the vessel 15 miles away from Bangladesh boarder.

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