HOW COAST GUARD CONDUCTED A HISTORIC OPERATION OFF THE COAST OF SRI LANKA - The Daily Guardian
Connect with us

Defence

HOW COAST GUARD CONDUCTED A HISTORIC OPERATION OFF THE COAST OF SRI LANKA

Indian Coast Guard spearheaded a perilous fire-fighting operation that lasted over 7 days, in dousing an intense fire onboard the 333-metre-long oil tanker off the Sri Lankan east coast, carrying about 3 lakh metric tonne of crude oil.

Ashish Singh

Published

on

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) created yet another maritime history of a kind by responding and coordinating a major firefighting operation onboard Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) ‘MT New Diamond’ wherein the entire highly inflammable cargo ‘Kuwait Export Crude’ was protected despite raging fire and intermittent explosions. The ICG spearheaded a perilous fire-fighting operation that lasted over 7 days, in dousing an intense fire onboard the 333-metre-long oil tanker off the Sri Lankan east coast, carrying about 3 lakh metric tonne of crude oil (Category 1 inflammable liquid), thus averting a serious disaster in the region which otherwise would have threatened the bio-diversified marine environment off Sri Lanka, Maldives and southern India. Comparing with the recent oil-spill mishap of 1,000 tonne Bunker Oil from MV Wakashio witnessed off Mauritius in August 2020 that led to declaration of National Emergency by the island nation, the quantum of crude in this incident was 270-times more voluminous. It is left to imagination that how devastating an oil spill off this high magnitude would have been for the region.

MT New Diamond, a Panama flagged vessel with 23 crew, was on passage from Kuwait to India (Paradip Port), reported fire due to boiler explosion aboard on the morning of 3 September about 40NM (approximately 70 km) of Tirrukkovil (south-east off Sri Lankan coast).The distress message was picked up by Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), Colombo and by MRCC Mumbai. The Sri Lankan government, post assessing the situation, requested immediate support of India through Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka.

Indian Coast Guard is the authority for National Maritime Search & Rescue (NMSAR), National Coordinating authority for oil spill response in Indian waters and Competent National Authority under the regional South Asian Co-operative Environment Program (SACEP) for responding and coordinating marine pollution response in South Asian Sea region. The SACEP Sri Lanka, sought assistance of ICG, as the threat of oil spill to the entire region was imminent to conduct rescue and fire fighting operation on the ill-fated tanker, including pollution response operation, India being a signatory to the regional association mechanism.

A multi-mission capable Offshore Patrol Vessel ICGS Shaurya, on preventive deployment off Tamil Nadu coast, immediately diverted and was the first ship to arrive at the “Golden Hour” on scene to commence fire fighting by afternoon on same day. The night of 3rd Sep witnessed one more blast onboard Motor Tanker and ICGS Shaurya continued her effort to keep the fire under control. Meanwhile, a joint effort by MRCC of ICG and Sri Lanka Navy had ensured rescue of 22 of the 23 crew by alerting nearest ships in vicinity. The timely and daring firefighting efforts by ICGS Shaurya was the game changer and ensured that the fire remain contained within the bridge and accommodation area. If not, the fire would have spread to the cargo hold carrying huge volume of crude, resulting in explosions and consequent catastrophic environmental disaster.

By 4 September morning, six ICG ships, including specialist Pollution Response Vessel, augmented initial response and two Dornier aircraft were pressed in action to operate from Sri Lankan soils for logistics & pollution response. ICG Ships utilised sophisticated special-fit External Fire Fighting (EFF) system to spray foam compound for smothering the oil fire. In addition to ICG ships, Sri Lankan tugs Ravana, Vishaba and ALP Winger, also joined on 4 September and commenced fire fighting.

While the collective fire-fighting was underway, the adrift distressed vessel was moving towards Sri Lanka coast due to the prevailing seasonal currents in area, posing an immediate threat of grounding and resultant oil spill once near depths of 20 metres. Indian Coast Guard boarding team, in a high risk operation braving the rough seas and adverse conditions, embarked the under fire unmanned tanker and successfully connected the tow to Sri Lankan Tug TTT-1 to pull it away from land and position favourably into the wind to prevent spread of fire to the forward section of the ship. This move was crucial turning point of the operation that ensured saving cargo of the oil tanker as also averting major oil spill in the region.

With intense and persistent firefighting attack for three days by ICG Ships along with Sri Lankan ships and tugs, coming within 50 metres of a potentially huge explosive seat, the fire got doused by 6 September morning. ICG ships, however, continued to monitor the situation, in case of re-eruption due to prevalent temperature and undertook surface-boundary cooling to reduce it around the cargo holds.

As estimation of a likelihood of reoccurrence, a huge explosion again occurred on the starboard diesel oil tank on 6 September afternoon and by midnight, huge flames reaching up to 60 metre height from the deck were seen at the rear part of the ship. All units scaled up from boundary cooling to firefighting and as a result of yet again sustained and close quarter efforts by 4 ICG Ships and 2 Sri Lankan and 3 salvor tugs, the fire was completely doused again by 8 September afternoon. Notwithstanding, continuous boundary cooling with sea water was maintained to reduce temperature of the ship’s structure. As a result of two major explosions of fuel oil tanks, the deck and hull on port and starboard side got ruptured. This led to escape of oil water emulsion from engine room to sea and formation of minor oil sheen.

On 9 September, ICG Dornier aircraft which was preemptively positioned at Sri Lankan air base (Mattala) was launched in pollution response configuration for spray of Oil Spill Dispersant (OSD) to neutralise the sheen. Simultaneously, ICG ships in area also sprayed OSD and churned the waters for kinetic action and to accelerate the disintegration of the oil sheen. Under no circumstances, the major cargo tanks were breached nor the Kuwait export crude escaped to sea. A major mile stone was achieved by preventing the oil spill during the entire operation. Had there been an oil spill of such high magnitude, the fisheries and livelihood of fishermen of the entire region would have been severely impacted.

The collective surface firefighting efforts was supplemented by aerial dropping of Dry Chemical Powder (DCP), a fire-fighting substance, by Sri Lankan Air Force. Further, Sri Lankan Naval authorities sought ICG support for five tonne DCP for firefighting which was sourced from M/s IOC, Chennai and airlifted to Trincomalee. The salvage team hired by the owner which arrived on 6Sep aligned with ICG plan and approach for the firefighting operation.

The salvage team boarded the vessel on 9 Sep 20 and assessed no hotspots, flames/smoke with no breach of cargo tanks. Naval architect in salvage team confirmed that the ship’s stability remained within the safe zone. Indian Coast Guard continued to closely monitor the situation even after the salvage team took over control of the ship. Post declaration by the salvor that the casualty vessel is safe as also upon receipt of information from the Sri Lankan authorities through HCI in Sri Lanka, the ICG units were withdrawn from the scene on 10 Sep.

The large scale, professional and proactive efforts of ICG have been appreciated at the international level by the government and the armed forces of Sri Lanka as also by former President of the Maldives. A major ecological disaster was averted in India’s backyard by joint efforts of Indian Coast Guard, Sri Lankan armed forces and tugs deployed by Sri Lankan naval authorities and DG (Shipping). The incident response also highlighted close co-operation and inter-operability with forces of our immediate neighbours in all together a new dimension, invoking the established MoU between the two nations.

This operation has brought to fore the lead role played by India and the capability of ICG to respond to an emerging situation to protect the maritime environment in living up to its motto of “Vayam Rakshamah” (We Protect).

The Daily Guardian is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@thedailyguardian) and stay updated with the latest headlines.

For the latest news Download The Daily Guardian App.

Defence

SWARNIM VIJAY VARSH CELEBRATIONS AT RASHTRIYA RIFLES SECTOR HEADQUARTERS

Ashish Singh

Published

on

NEW DELHI: The Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Flame after having entered the serene Kashmir Valley through the Navyug Tunnel on Tuesday, continued its journey and made its way to Anantnag City, also known as the ‘Land of Infinite Springs’. The Victory flame was received by Commanding Officer of Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, Wuzur and travelled to Khanabal, Anantnag via Mir Bazar, Khudwani and Wampoh and reached Rashtriya Rifles Sector Headquarter, Khanabal.

The flame was received with tremendous fervour by school children, local youth, 13 Veer Naris, 55 ex-servicemen, personnel from Security Forces & Law Enforcement Agencies and many other civilian dignitaries from the local administration. Thereafter, the Victory Flame was escorted through the Khanabal Junction, proudly carried by military personnel & civilians alike before entering the Khanabal Military Garrison. Later, the Victory Flame was handed over to the Commander, Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Khanabal at the War Memorial. Wreaths were laid to pay homage to the unsung War Heroes, by the visiting dignitaries, including Mr Hilal Ahmed Shah, Mayor Anantnag, Mr Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, IAS, Additional DC Anantnag, Mr Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, SSP Anantnag, Mr DP Upadhyay, DIG CRPF, Mr Abdul Jabbar, IPS, DIG (South Kashmir) and Commander Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Khanabal, followed by a ceremonial Guard of Honour. Post the solemn event, the celebrations continued with cultural performances by school children and local artists, followed by the felicitation of Veer Naris, Veer Matas & veterans by the dignitaries present.

Continue Reading

Defence

CHINA’S NEW BRI: BRIDE RESUPPLY INITIATIVE

Ashish Singh

Published

on

China is facing a mammoth problem due to a huge gender imbalance, with the male population exceeding the female population by more than 30 million, as per the data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics. The imbalance in the post-2000s and population of marriageable age have become incrementally vicious & even more urgent.

In 2020, the sex ratio of the total population in China was 105.302 males per 100 females as per data provided by Statistic Times. In total, there are 738,247,340 or 738.25 million males and 701,076,434 or 701.08 million females in China. The percentage of the female population is 48.71 percent compared to 51.29 percent male population.

The most influential factor behind such skewed figures has been the erstwhile infamous “one-child” policy of China from 1979 to 2015, which prompted many parents to decide that their sole child must be a boy. Though China reversed it in 2016 to allow families to have two children as fears grew about the country’s fast-ageing population and shrinking workforce, the change has not yet resulted in a baby boom, with Chinese women often delaying or avoiding childbirth and young couples blaming rising costs and insufficient policy support for families.

China now has a huge, and growing, gender gap among the generations most likely to be seeking a spouse—a bride shortage. As on date there are around 35 million males more than females and this figure is expected to grow by almost 5% every year (as per present sex ratio), meaning that China will have more than 50 million ‘Extra Men’ within next five years. Experts project that many of these extra men will never marry; others may go to extreme measures to do so. The difficulty that these Chinese men now face in finding wives, combined with a lack of protections in China, is driving a brutal business of selling women and girls from neighbouring countries.

BRIDE RESUPPLY INITIATIVE

It has emerged that agents in China and Pakistan have used the garb of CPEC to literally kidnap girls from lower socio-economic backgrounds, especially from minority communities such as Christians, Hindus and marry them off to Chinese men. US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback during a statement in Dec 2020 mentioned this as one of the reasons for designating Pakistan as a country of particular concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act.

Most of these Pakistani brides are given inflated information about the socio-economic status of these Chinese grooms which turns out to be false. These women and girls are typically tricked by brokers who promise well-paid employment across the border in China. Once in China, they find themselves at the mercy of the brokers, who sell them for around $3,000 to $13,000 to Chinese families. Once purchased they may be held prisoner and pressured to produce babies as quickly as possible. Similar stories have been documented by journalists and researchers in some other countries too like Cambodia, North Korea, Myanmar, and Vietnam, among others, although on a relatively smaller scale.

As part of the Belt and Road Initiative’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan received a $ 62-billion infrastructural investment package to develop major works, from roads to power plants. Quite naturally, the Pak government has sought to curtail investigations, putting “immense pressure” on officials from the Federal Investigation Agency pursuing trafficking networks fearing such efforts could sour relationships with the country’s all weather ally- China, says Saleem Iqbal, a Christian activist who has helped parents rescue several young girls from China and prevented others from being sent there. Other countries with trafficked brides face similar asymmetrical power and economic relationships with China, and analysts doubt these nations will discuss difficult topics like action against bride trafficking in negotiations with their powerful neighbour.

The Chinese government’s main response for many years seemed to be simply to ignore growing allegations about authorities’ complicity in these crimes. But the problem is becoming too big to ignore; the government’s stonewalling is gradually being replaced by a mixture of criminal justice and propaganda responses, neither of which get to the real issue of gender discrimination.

As per experts’ calculations, it will take about 50 to 60 years to slowly resolve the gender imbalance formed 20 to 30 years ago if some concrete steps are taken today. Well, while that might be true, Xi Jinping does not need to bother much having a sidekick like Pakistan under his thumb. With a sinking economy, ever rising pile of debts with some requiring immediate payback and the FATF sword looming on is neck since ages, Pakistan is left with very little choice other than complying with the Chinese demands even if that’s at the cost of its daughters.

Continue Reading

Defence

AT ASEAN DEFENCE MINISTERS’ MEETING, RAJNATH SINGH CALLS FOR AN OPEN AND INCLUSIVE ORDER IN INDO-PACIFIC

Ashish Singh

Published

on

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called for an open and inclusive order in Indo-Pacific based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations while addressing the 8th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus on Wednesday. The ADMM Plus is an annual meeting of Defence Ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and eight dialogue partner countries – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States. Brunei is the Chair of the ADMM Plus forum this year.

Rajnath Singh also stressed on “peaceful resolutions of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.” “India has strengthened its cooperative engagements in the Indo-Pacific based on converging visions and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Premised upon the centrality of ASEAN, India supports utilisation of ASEAN-led mechanisms as important platforms for implementation of our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific”, he added. During thematic discussions on regional and international security environment, Rajnath Singh put forth India’s views before the Defence Ministers of ASEAN countries and eight dialogue partners. He stressed that the emerging challenges to international peace and security cannot be addressed with outdated systems designed to deal with trials of the past.

The Raksha Mantri reiterated India’s support to freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded commerce for all in international waters in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). “Maritime security challenges are a concern to India. The Sea lanes of Communication are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region,” he stressed. The Raksha Mantri hoped that the Code of Conduct negotiations will lead to outcomes keeping with international law and do not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of nations that are not party to these discussions.

On the ‘Act East Policy’, announced by Prime Minister Narender Modi in November 2014,Rajnath Singh stated that the key elements of the policy aim to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. Terming terrorism and radicalisation as gravest threats to world peace and security, Rajnath Singh called for collective cooperation to fully disrupt terror organisations and their networks; identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable and ensure that strong measures are taken against those who support and finance terrorism and provide sanctuary to terrorists. As a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), he said India remains committed to combat financing of terrorism.

To deal with cyber threats, the Raksha Mantri called for a multi-stakeholder approach, guided by democratic values, with a governance structure that is open and inclusive and a secure, open and stable internet with due respect to sovereignty of countries, that would drive the future of cyberspace. On the most recent challenge faced by the world, COVID-19, Rajnath Singh said the effect of the pandemic is still unfolding and the test, therefore, is to make sure that the world economy moves on the path of recovery and no one is left behind. This is only possible if entire humanity is vaccinated, he stated. “Globally available patent free vaccines, unhindered supply chains and greater global medical capacities are some of the lines of effort that India has suggested for a combined effort,” he highlighted.

Referring to the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, the Raksha Mantri stated that India remains one of the first to respond in times of distress in the immediate as well as extended neighbourhood. As a founding member of the Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting (HACGAM), India seeks to enhance capacity building through collaboration in the areas of Maritime Search & Rescue, he added. Rajnath Singh also underscored the importance India attaches to ASEAN centrality and unity in ensuring peace and stability in the region. He said India shares a deep connect with ASEAN and has continued its active engagement in many areas contributing to regional peace and stability, particularly through ASEAN led mechanisms, such as East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and ADMM-Plus. The India-ASEAN strategic partnership has been strengthened by virtue of flourishing cultural and civilisational links and enhanced people-to-people cooperation, he added. The Raksha Mantri thanked Brunei for conducting the ADMM Plus despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain and other senior officials of Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs attended the meeting.

Continue Reading

Defence

INSPECTOR GENERAL M.V. PATHAK TAKES OVER AS THE COMMANDER OF COAST GUARD REGION NORTH EAST

Ashish Singh

Published

on

Inspector General MV Pathak took over as the Regional Commander, Coast Guard Region North East, Kolkata from Inspector General AK Harbola on Monday. Inspector General Pathak is an alumnus of the US Coast Guard Academy, Connecticut, having undergone the IMO Course from this academy.

During his illustrious career of more than three decades, Inspector General Pathak has commanded all classes of Coast Guard Ships. The shore appointments held by the flag officer include Chief of Staff to Coast Guard Commander (Western Seaboard) Mumbai, Commander Coast Guard (Kerala and Mahe), Principal Director (Administration), and Director (Manpower, Recruitment and Training) at Coast Guard Headquarters, New Delhi.

Before taking over the reins of Coast Guard Region North East, Inspector General Pathak was the Regional Commander, Coast Guard Region (Andaman & Nicobar) at Port Blair for three years. The flag officer is a recipient of the ‘Tatrakshak Medal’. Inspector General Maneesh Pathak on taking over said that his priority will be strengthening the Coastal Security mechanism through coordination with all State and Central Agencies and to make the seas safe for all fishermen and seafarers. He further added that the Indian Coast Guard is committed to in motto “Vayam Rakshamah” which means “We Protect”.

Continue Reading

Defence

INDIAN ARMY CONDUCTS RAIL TRIALS ON DEDICATED FREIGHT CORRIDOR

Ashish Singh

Published

on

The recently developed “Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)” by the Indian Railways provides faster movement of freight across the Country. The Indian Army, on Monday, conducted a successful trial by moving a military train loaded with vehicles and equipment from New Rewari to New Phulera validating the efficacy of the DFC. The intricate and synchronised coordination by the Indian Army with Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL) and Indian Railways will significantly enhance the mobilisation capability of the Armed Forces. These trials were part of the “Whole of the Nation Approach” for optimising national resources and achieve seamless synergy among various ministries and departments.

Interactions by the Indian Army with all stakeholders including DFCCIL and Indian Railways will now assist in leveraging the DFC and allied infrastructure into the mobilisation matrix of Armed Forces. Development of infrastructure at certain locations to support mobilisation and trials to validate move of defence owned rolling stock on Roll On-Roll Off (RO-RO) service is being formalised and modalities are being evolved. These trials herald the first step in this process to pave the way for enhancing the operational readiness of the Armed Forces. This initiative would set in place processes to ensure that military requirements are dovetailed in the national infrastructure development at the planning stage itself.

Continue Reading

Defence

NORTHERN ARMY COMMANDER FELICITATES ‘VEER NARIS’ AND WAR HEROES OF 1971 INDIA-PAK WAR

Ashish Singh

Published

on

NEW DELHI: Lt Gen YK Joshi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command laid a wreath to Swarnim Vijay Mashaal and paid tributes to fallen heroes at the Warrior’s Grove War Memorial, Crossed Swords Division, Akhnoor as a part of Swarnim Vijay Varsh celebrations. The Army Commander accompanied by Lt Gen MV Suchindra Kumar, GOC White Knight Corps was briefed on the saga and valour of gallant soldiers of Indian Armed Forces during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. A documentary on the 1971 Indo-Pak War was screened for the audience.

The General officer felicitated Veer Naris and war heroes of the 1971 Indo Pak war at Akhnoor. The GOC-in-C, a war hero and Vir Chakra awardee, appreciated the veterans for their invaluable services for the motherland. He also expressed deep gratitude for the sacrifices of the Veer Naris. Lt Gen YK Joshi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command interacted with all veterans and Veer Naris following Covid protocol. He expressed gratitude and acknowledged the contributions of the populace of Jammu & Kasmir who have played a pivotal role during various operations. He assured Veer Naris and veterans of full support at all times as was extended during the Covid pandemic. He motivated them to take maximum benefits from the facilities rendered by the Indian Army at their doorstep including Covid Care Facilities, Covid vaccination, Covid preventive measures, and government schemes, etc.

Continue Reading

Trending