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On 13th June 2018, the fully cellular containership SSL Kolkata (1100 TEU, 9956 GT)  on the way from Krishnapatnam to Kolkata, caught fire following an explosion.  As a result of the incident, the vessel started to drift towards the shallows of Dalhousie Island and stopped at about 7.5 nm south of Bangaduni island of Sunderbans.  The fire spread rapidly through the vessel due to rough sea and high winds.


Rescue operations were initiated by the Indian Coast Guard vessel Rajkiran and all 22 crew members were rescued.  Indian Air Force aircrafts provide aerial fire fighting support to bring the fire under control.  On 16 June 2018, Indian Navy personnel boarded the vessel to deploy the starboard anchor in order to prevent the casualty drifting toward Bangladesh territorial waters. The vessel was found to be aground and stable. 

SMIT and Vishwakarma team was mobilised to the site to assess the situation and make a plan for refloating.  On 19th June 2018, SMIT salvage team members boarded the SSL Kolkata and ascertained that the vessel was firm in position.  Salvage teams and equipments from Mumbai, Netherlands and Singapore were mobilised to Kolkata. The casualty was to be refloated and taken to deeper waters for further action.  Anchor Handling tug and port tugs were chartered to assist in the salvage operation.  The salvage team during subsequent visits on the casualty observed a crack on a deck extending to the ship’s side.  The crack indicated that the casualty was on the verge of breaking into two pieces.  The refloating operation was thus ruled out.


The next phase of the operation was to remove residual oil from the tanks to avoid any oil pollution in the eco-sensitive zone of Sunderbans.  SMIT Borneo was mobilised from Singapore to undertake the fuel removal operation assisted by anchor handling tug and Multicat vessel.  Indian Air Force was also kept standby during the fuel removal operation.  The Oil Spill Response was carried out by the River Barge Vayuputra assisted by fishing boats hired from the fishing communities of Namkhana and Kakdwip.   The entire fuel removal operation was completed without any oil spill on 30th October 2018 and all crafts/vessels were demobilised.

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