Lightering Set to Begin for SSL Kolkata
On Thursday, salvors began preparations to lighter 200 tonnes of fuel off the grounded container ship SSL Kolkata, which caught fire and went adrift on June 13. The Kolkata has been aground off the Sundarbans, an environmentally sensitive mangrove forest on the India-Bangladesh border, for more than one month.
The salvage vessel Smit Borneo has arrived on scene to conduct lightering efforts, and salvors intend to begin fuel removal on Friday. The Borneo transited from Singapore to reach the site, a 20-day voyage, and poor weather in the Bay of Bengal has led to further delays. A spokesman for the salvage effort told The Telegraph India that winds were up to 40 knots during a recent monsoon-season depression, raising large waves and rendering operations difficult.
The 1,100 TEU Kolkata caught on fire at 2215 hours June 13 after an explosion on deck. The fire could not be contained, and all 22 crewmembers safely abandoned ship onto the Indian Coast Guard cutter RCGS Rajkiran.
The Times of India reports that the Kolkata was carrying containers of magnesium, in addition to other cargo, and a standby vessel reported additional explosions on board after the grounding. As of mid-July the vessel had developed cracking amidships, according to local media, and had taken on a starboard list, with water up to the main deck level.