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Salvage Teams have boarded MV New Diamond – situation
Salvage teams and officers from the Sri Lanka Navy were able to reboard the VLCC New Diamond and undertake their first inspection of the burnt-out crude oil tanker now that they have confirmed the fire has been extinguished. They are working on stabilizing the situation aboard the vessel while a plan is finalized for its salvage. A dive inspection has been conducted and the hull structure has been found to be sound. The vessel is now considered to be stable and safe. The priorities now are to empty the flooded engine room and blanking an underwater non-return valve.
The Sri Lanka Navy said despite continued rough sea conditions 17 members of the salvage team and four of its officers had been aboard the New Diamond. They reported that the vessel is stabile although with parts of the engine room and machinery areas flooded it is riding low at the stern. Among their first efforts was to begin to vent the interior of the ship to remove any potentially toxic gasses from the fire.
A spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Navy told Reuters that the team had been successful in identifying the bunker fuel tank that is leaking and believed to be the cause of the oil stains they located on the ocean after the tow of the tanker began. The plan is to empty that diesel fuel tank to stop further leaks.
However with the vessel disabled it will have to be towed to a port of refuge so that its cargo of 2 million barrels of crude oil can be removed. Sri Lanka, in whose waters the vessel currently is, have refused access. SMIT salvage have been given the task of completing the salvage operation.