Navy anchors burning merchant vessel SSL Kolkata

New Delhi: In a complex operation, a helicopter from the Eastern Naval Command on Saturday winched down a Marco officer on to the merchant vessel SSL Kolkata which has been on fire since Wednesday night.

The vessel was abandoned by 22 crew members on Thursday off Sagar Island. The ship had caught fire in the Bay of Bengal.

According to a statement, the Marine Commando Officer ascertained the conditions in the forward part of the ship and later called in the Seaking 42C helicopter to lower on-board three crew members of the ship.

The team managed to drop the starboard anchor from the ship to prevent it from drifting any further, it added.

“Thereafter, the team prepared the seamanship gear for the ship to be towed if required. The was evident from the explosion on-board which restarted the fire,” read the statement.

“The helicopter recovered all four members of the team and is returning to base for turnaround,” it added.

Earlier, Karambir Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command, had directed that the ship drifting towards the Sundarbans delta should be stopped as the high temperature on-board could have led to an ecological disaster in case the ship capsized on the sand banks, causing pollution from oil on board.

“Accordingly, a Seaking 42C helicopter and a Dornier aircraft were despatched from Visakhapatnam with a core team comprising of divers, Marcos, shipwrights and seamanship specialists,” the statement said.

INS Kadmat, which was exercising in the Bay of Bengal on June 15, was directed to proceed at best speed and arrived at the site on Saturday morning to augment the on-site support wherein the ICG (Indian Coast Guard) ships were also standing by.

The operation on Saturday successfully managed to arrest the further drift of the ship to enable salvage operations, the statement said.

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