Chennai : Even as fire fighting efforts were underway on the blazing very large crude carrier (VLCC) New Diamond chartered by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), an experienced marine engineer said that the two-metre long crack near Port aft portion 10 metres above the waterline of the oil laden tanker could likely pose a problem if the crack further increases.
On Friday the Indian Coast Guard said the crack was two metre long and has been observed near the Port aft portion, 10 metres above the waterline.
The fire fighting operations are continuing for second day in succession, the Coast Guard said.
"If the crack propagates, and there is every likelihood of that and cannot be predicted, then the stability of the ship could be affected. A ship standstill is still subjected to tremendous stresses and could break and capsize," M. Kalayanaraman, Technical Editor, Riviera Maritime Media told IANS.
He said if the fire is still raging then it means the fuel for the fire is still there in whichever space is on fire.
"What is not clear is if any of the cargo tanks are affected, or it could be just the ship bunker fuel tanks," Kalyanaraman said.
While towing is also a risky proposition, he added that which port can take in such a large ship.
Seeing the pictures of the ship on fire, Kalyanaraman said the engine room is gutted.
It has to be seen whether the pump room -- where the pumps to pump out the crude oil are located -- too have been damaged.
He said if the pump room is damaged then it will be a great challenge to pump out the oil.
"We have to hope and pray the fire is extinguished as soon as possible," he said.
The oil tanker caught fire on Thursday morning 37 nautical miles off the Sri Lankan coast. As per www.marinetraffic.com, the 20-year-old VLCC 'New Diamond' sailing under the Panama flag departed from Mina Al Ahmadi on August 23 and was heading to Paradip port in India.
The oil tanker was expected to reach Paradip in Odisha on September 5 where IOC has a large refinery. The vessel's deadweight tonnage (DWT) is 2,99,986 t, length is 333 metres and width is 60 metres.
The Coast Guard on Thursday said the Sri Lankan Navy had sought assistance to fight the fire and explosion on board New Diamond. So it had diverted three of its ships -- Shaurya, Sarang, Samudra Paheredar and a Dornier aircraft for firefighting operations.
However, IOC officials remained silent on the accident.
According to reports, another ship Helen M an oil products tanker sailing under the Panama flag on receipt of distress message had gone to the location of New Diamond for rescue.
Helen M was sailing from Mangalore to Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.