22 Rescued from Burning Container Ship Off Kolkata

The crew of the SSL Kolkata abandon ship (all images courtesy Indian Coast Guard)

By The Maritime Executive 06-15-2018 03:20:01

On Thursday, the Indian Coast Guard successfully rescued 22 crewmembers from the burning container feeder SSL Kolkata in the Bay of Bengal. 

In a statement, operator Shreyas Shipping and Logistics confirmed that the 1,100 TEU Kolkata caught on fire at 2215 hours June 13 after an explosion on deck. The crew attempted to fight the fire through the night but were not successful in containing its spread.

The following afternoon, all 22 of the vessel's crew abandoned ship and were rescued by the Indian Coast Guard cutter RCGS Rajkiran, which brought them safely back to shore at Haldia. No injuries were reported. 

Capt. T. Ngamlien, the commanding officer of the Rajkiran, told Telegraph India that the conditions on scene were too severe for the deployment of the cutter's rescue boats. His crew made arrangements to bring the SSL Kolkata survivors aboard using life rafts instead, and the full rescue evolution took four hours. 

Shreyas Shipping said that the vessel is now adrift off Sandheads, an anchorage near the port of Kolkata, and that salvage resources have been mobilized to respond to the scene. 

Inspector General Kuldeep Singh Sheoran of the Indian Coast Guard said that there was no sign of a fuel spill at present. The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but Sheoran suggested that strong wind conditions aided its spread from container to container. Authorities have not ruled out a chemical fire as the initial source of the blaze.