Pearl (modified).jpg

X-Press Pearl
Incident Information Centre

(IMO: 9875343 )

 

Incident Overview

On May 20, 2021, the Singapore -flagged Containership, 'X-Press Pearl' reported smoke from the cargo hold while at Colombo anchorage, Sri Lanka.

Emergency procedures were initiated, and Co2 released in the cargo hold. Port control and the local authority were informed, and Sri Lankan navy assets along with firefighting teams were placed on standby. 

On May 21, the vessel reported fire on deck.  Firefighting tugs were deployed by the port authority and a helicopter providing support to help fight the fire. The ship's crew assisted with boundary cooling of the area.

The Harbour Master and Sri Lankan Navy were on standby to assist in case of evacuation. 

Fire and chemical experts were contacted by the vessels operators, and Smit Salvage were appointed as Salvors.

On May 22, the sound of an explosion was heard in cargo hold #2. 

Tugs continued the firefighting operation with Posh Teal, Posh Hardy, Megha, Hercules, Mahawewa deployed.

12 crew members disembarked from the vessel on May 23 to make way for a 12-person firefighting team. The firefighting team continued the operation in conjunction with water spraying tugs on site.

By May 24, the fire had intensified and was spreading toward the aft of the vessel. 

A further and louder explosion was heard on May 25, and as a prudent measure, it was decided to evacuate all 13 crew and the firefighting team of 12. The crew and firefighting team were transferred to a quarantine facility ashore. Unfortunately, two crew members suffered leg injuries during evacuation and were taken to hospital for attention. All were reported to be in stable condition.

Firefighting tugs were operating on-site throughout May 26, with the assistance of Sri Lankan Navy helicopters and vessels and two Indian Coastguard vessels. To assist with the shoreline cleanup, three JCB diggers are provided to the MEPA for use by the mobilised defence force personnel. Due to the lockdown in Sri Lanka, only machinery can be provided, not manpower.

On May 27, efforts to extinguish the fire onboard were ongoing with firefighting tugs, the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian coastguard remaining on scene. All measures were being taken to save the vessel and cargo and protect the marine environment, and it appears that the onboard fire has diminished somewhat.

An inspection team were able to board the vessel on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 1, and reported the engine room flooded. There are concerns over the amount of water in the hull and its effect on the ship's stability. Efforts to make a connection for towing failed after several attempts due to the tug's movement caused by the swell. The operation was aborted for safety reasons.

Despite salvors subsequently boarding the vessel on June 2 and attaching a tow wire, efforts to move the ship to deeper waters failed, and the ships aft portion sank to the bottom at a depth of 21 meters. As of 1500 Sri Lanka time, the forward area of the vessel remained afloat with smoke coming out of Cargo Holds No 1 and 2.

Salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

Oil Spill Response Limited is appointed to respond to any possible spill and is liaising with ITOPF, who will provide technical expertise. Both OSRL and ITOPF have people on the ground in Colombo coordinating with the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants.

On June 4, the ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section continues to settle down slowly. Salvors were able to retrieve the anchor.

Navy divers retrieve the vessel's VDR on June 6 with still no signs of debris or fuel oil spill.

 

Vessel Details

Vessel Name: X-PRESS PEARL 

Vessel Type: Containership

Flag: Singapore

Year of Build: 2021

Gross Tonnage: 31629

DWT: 36150

 

 
Image by James Eades

Latest Press Releases

 

Statement 23 - 17th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl', confirm that the wreck is now wholly sitting on the seabed at a depth of 21 meters. Caretakers salvors are onsite on a 24-hour watch to deal with any possible debris and report any form of a spill. 

A grey sheen continues to be observed emanating from the vessel, and discolouration of the sea in and around the wreck remains. This has been apparent since the vessel's stern became submerged, and the remnants of the cargo in the 1486 containers that were onboard were exposed to seawater.

Representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and are ready to deploy in case of any reported spill. 

Due to the exposed nature of the anchorage to the prevailing South Westerly Monsoon, it is likely that the wreck removal can only start after the SW monsoon subsides; caretaker services will remain on site until then. They will continue to minimise pollution and monitor the wreck's condition and report daily to experts ashore and Government agencies. 

Additionally, the caretakers will install navigational warning lights and markers on the wreck for the safety of other vessels. When conditions allow, side-scan sonar will be used to locate any sunken containers or debris in the anchorage for removal. 

​Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 22 - 15th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl', confirm that the vessel's bow and forecastle deck are now submerged, and the forward section of the hull continues to slowly settle to the seabed at a depth of 21 meters. Observations from the Salvors as of 0600 Sri Lanka local time are there has been no noticeable fuel oil spill, and some minor debris has been collected.

A grey sheen continues to be observed emanating from the vessel, and discolouration of the sea in and around the wreck remains. This has been apparent since the vessel's stern became submerged, and the remnants of the cargo in the 1486 containers that were onboard were exposed to seawater.

The salvors will remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

Representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and are ready to deploy in case of any reported spill.

Ashore the vessel's Captain has appeared in court without charge supported by company lawyers under Section 12 of the MPPA. He was released on bail. The crew have all returned negative Covid-19 PCR tests and are out of quarantine and housed in local hotels; the two seafarers recovering from leg injuries remain under hospital care.

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 21 - 12th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl', confirm that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no confirmed reports of fuel oil pollution as of 1800 Sri Lanka local time.

The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section remains afloat and is reported as stable. Observations from the Salvors who remain on scene with the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian Coastguard are there has been no noticeable fuel oil spill.

A grey sheen continues to be observed emanating from the vessel. Discolouration of the sea has been apparent since the vessel's stern became submerged, and the remnants of the cargo in the 1486 containers that were onboard were exposed to water.

Representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill.

The salvors will remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 20 - 10th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl', confirm that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no confirmed reports of fuel oil pollution as of 1800 Sri Lanka local time.

The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section remains afloat and is reported as stable. Inspections thus far by Sri Lankan Navy divers have found no evidence of a breach to the ships fuel oil tanks, and observations from the Salvors who remain on scene with the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian Coastguard are there has been no noticeable fuel oil spill.

A grey sheen has been observed emanating from the vessel, and water samples are currently being tested. Discolouration of the sea has been apparent since the vessel's stern became submerged, and the remnants of the cargo in the 1486 containers that were onboard were exposed to water.

Representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill.


The salvors will remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 19 - 9th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl', confirm that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no confirmed reports of fuel oil pollution as of 1800 Sri Lanka local time.

The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section remains afloat and is reported as stable. The salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

Representatives of ITOPF and MEPA visited the site today and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill.


Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 18 - 8th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl', confirm that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no confirmed reports of fuel oil pollution as of 1800 Sri Lanka local time.

The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section remains afloat and is reported as stable. A marine chemist continues to take readings of the air around the vessel and test water samples to ensure the site's safety.

The salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

Ashore representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill. They are coordinating with MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants.

The shoreline cleanup is ongoing, and we remain committed to contributing earth movers to assist. We thank MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy for their efforts during this lockdown in Sri Lanka, and they will further guide us on what assistance is needed and how we can provide it.

The crew remain housed in a quarantine hotel and continue to co-operate with local police in their investigations, with more interviews due to be conducted tomorrow. One seafarer remains in a private hospital recovering from leg injuries sustained in the evacuation from the ship. A second injured seafarer, who tested Covid positive but remains asymptomatic, is recovering in a military hospital.

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 18 - 8th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl', confirm that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no confirmed reports of fuel oil pollution as of 1800 Sri Lanka local time.

The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section remains afloat and is reported as stable. A marine chemist continues to take readings of the air around the vessel and test water samples to ensure the site's safety.

The salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

Ashore representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill. They are coordinating with MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants.

The shoreline cleanup is ongoing, and we remain committed to contributing earth movers to assist. We thank MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy for their efforts during this lockdown in Sri Lanka, and they will further guide us on what assistance is needed and how we can provide it.

The crew remain housed in a quarantine hotel and continue to co-operate with local police in their investigations, with more interviews due to be conducted tomorrow. One seafarer remains in a private hospital recovering from leg injuries sustained in the evacuation from the ship. A second injured seafarer, who tested Covid positive but remains asymptomatic, is recovering in a military hospital.

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 17 - 7th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' can confirm that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no reports of fuel oil pollution as of 1800 Sri Lanka local time.


The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section remains afloat and is reported as stable. A diving inspection was successfully performed on the stern quarter of the ship, and a marine chemist continues to take readings of the air around the vessel and the pH levels of the seawater to ensure the safety of the site.


The salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.


Ashore representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill. They continue to coordinate with MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants.


Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 16 - 6th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' can confirm that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no reports of fuel oil pollution as of 1800 Sri Lanka local time.

The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section continues to settle down slowly. Salvors boarded a six-person team to the still floating bow area for assessment. They remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

Ashore representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill. They continue to coordinate with MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants.

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 15 - 5th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Presse Pearl' can confirm that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no reports of fuel oil pollution as of 18.00 Sri Lanka local time.

 

The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section continues to settle down slowly. An initial inspection has been carried out by divers to assess the condition of the hull. Salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby. 

 

Ashore representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill. They continue to coordinate with MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants. 

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 14 - 5th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' can confirm that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no reports of fuel oil pollution as of 18.00 Sri Lanka local time.

 

The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section continues to settle down slowly. An initial inspection has been carried out by divers to assess the condition of the hull. Salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby. 

 

Ashore representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill. They continue to coordinate with MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants. 

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 13 - 4th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' can confirm that the situation on scene remains the same with no signs of debris and no reports of fuel oil pollution as of 1800 Sri Lanka local time.


The ships aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section continues to settle down slowly. Salvors were able to retrieve the anchor and remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.


Ashore representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill. They continue to coordinate with MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants.


One seafarer remains in a private hospital recovering from leg injuries sustained in the evacuation from the ship. A second injured seafarer, who tested Covid positive but remains asymptomatic, is recovering in a military hospital. The rest of the crew remain housed in a quarantine hotel.


Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 12 - 4th June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' can confirm that the situation on scene remains the same with no signs of debris and no reports of fuel oil pollution as of 0700 Sri Lanka local time.

The ships aft portion is sitting on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section continues to settle down slowly.  Salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 11 - 3rd June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' can confirm that the situation on scene remains the same with no signs of debris and no reports of oil pollution as of 1500 Sri Lanka local time.

The ships aft portion is sitting on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section continues to settle down slowly.  Navy divers attempted to inspect the vessel under the direction of salvors but were forced to resurface due to poor visibility. Salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

Ashore representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill. They continue to coordinate with MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants. We remain committed to assist in the shoreline cleanup efforts led by MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy.


Due to the lockdown in Sri Lanka, we can only contribute machinery, not manpower, and we will continue to be guided by the local authorities.

The crew continue to co-operate with local police in their investigations, with four of the officers interviewed so far. They remain housed in a quarantine hotel with other crew members. One seafarer remains in a private hospital recovering from leg injuries sustained in the evacuation from the ship. A second injured seafarer, who tested Covid positive but remains asymptomatic, is recovering in a military hospital.

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 10 - 3rd June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' can confirm that the situation on scene remains the same as late yesterday with no signs of debris and no reports of oil pollution as of 0700 Sri Lanka local time.

The ships aft portion is sitting on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section continues to settle down slowly.  Salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby.

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 9 - 2nd June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship X-Press confirm that the ships aft portion is sitting on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section is settling down slowly. Salvors remain on scene supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard off the Port of Colombo.


Salvors will remain with the vessel to monitor the ships condition and oil pollution, if any. The immediate focus is to minimise any further damage to the environment.


Oil Spill Response Limited has been appointed to respond to any possible spill and is liaising with ITOPF, who will provide technical expertise. Both OSRL and ITOPF have people on the ground in Colombo coordinating with the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants.


Early estimates are that most of the cargo has been incinerated during the fire.


Ashore, contractors continue working with local authorities on shoreline clean up efforts to safely dispose of any debris that is washed up.


Most of the evacuated crew continue to serve out quarantine at dedicated local hotels, whilst select seafarers continue helping local police with their enquiries into the fire and are cooperating with investigators. We will respect this process and not publicly discuss operational details until the investigation has been completed.


The crew member who was transferred to a special facility in a military hospital after testing positive  for Covid-19 remains asymptomatic and continues to recover from the leg injury.

A second injured crew member continues to recover from his leg injuries in a local hospital.


X-Press Feeders will continue cooperating with the relevant investigations into this incident.


Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 8 - 2nd June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' regret to report that despite salvors successfully boarding the vessel and attaching a tow wire, efforts to move the ship to deeper waters have failed, and the ships aft portion is now touching bottom at a depth of 21 meters. As of 1500 Sri Lanka time, the foreward area of the vessel remains afloat with smoke coming out of Cargo Holds No 1 and 2.

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 7 - 2nd June 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' confirm that salvors report no visible flames aboard the vessel, though smoke is still emitting intermittently from cargo holds 1,2 and 3. 

An inspection team were able to board the vessel on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 1, and reported the engine room flooded. There are now concerns over the amount of water in the hull and its effect on the ship's stability. Efforts to make a connection for towing failed after several attempts due to the tug's movement caused by the swell. The operation was aborted for safety reasons.

A team has reboarded the vessel again today for further investigations and to renew attempts to make a line connection on the bow.  If the connection is made, the ship will be towed in a westerly direction, away from the coastline. There is continued support from the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian coastguard, who remain on scene. 

Ashore, contractors continue working with local authorities on their fifth day of shoreline clean up efforts to safely dispose of any debris that has washed up.

Most of the evacuated crew continue to serve out quarantine at dedicated local hotels, whilst select seafarers continue helping local police with their enquiries into the fire and are cooperating with investigators. We will respect this process and not publicly discuss operational details until the investigation has been completed.

The crew member who was transferred to a special facility in a military hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 remains asymptomatic and continues to recover from the leg injury. A second injured crew member continues to recover from his leg injuries in a local hospital. 

X-Press Feeders remain fully focused on the ongoing firefighting and salvage operation and will continue cooperating with the relevant investigations into this incident.

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 6 - 31st May 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' confirm that salvors report no visible flames aboard the vessel, though smoke is still issuing from areas in the ship's aft.

Firefighting tugs will continue spraying and misting operations to ensure the cooling of all hotspots and the vessel's hull and hatches, with temperature readings being taken with specialised equipment that has arrived from the Netherlands. There is continued support from the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian coastguard, who remain on scene.

Salvors are still exploring the possibilities of boarding the ship and making a tow connection so it can be moved, with the safety of the team the highest priority. As of 1100 Hours on May 31, 2021, Sri Lankan time, the salvors confirmed that the vessel's hull remains structurally intact, and there has been no loss of oil into the port's waters.

Ashore, contractors continue working with local authorities on their fifth day of shoreline clean up efforts to safely dispose of any debris that has washed up.

Most of the evacuated crew continue to serve out quarantine at dedicated local hotels, whilst select seafarers have today been helping local police with their enquiries into the fire and are cooperating with investigators. We will respect this process and not publicly discuss operational details until the investigation has been completed.

The crew member who was transferred to a special facility in a military hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 remains asymptomatic and continues to recover from the leg injury. A second injured crew member continues to recover from his leg injuries in a local hospital.

X-Press Feeders remain fully focused on the ongoing firefighting and salvage operation and will continue cooperating with the relevant investigations into this incident.

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 5 - 30th May 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' report that firefighting operations to extinguish the blaze aboard the vessel have further reduced the area affected by flames to small spot fires in the aft of the ship.


Firefighting tugs will continue spraying and misting the vessel with support from the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian coastguard, who remain on scene. Salvors are also exploring the possibility of boarding the ship and making a tow connection so it can be moved.


As of 1100 Hours on May 30, 2021, Sri Lankan time, the salvors have confirmed that the vessel's hull remains structurally intact, and there has been no loss of oil into the port's waters.
Contractors continue working with local authorities on their fourth day of shoreline clean up efforts to dispose of any debris that has come ashore safely


The crew member who was transferred to a special facility in a military hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 remains asymptomatic and continues to recover from the leg injury. A second injured crew member continues to recover from his injuries in a local hospital. All other crew members who remain in a Colombo quarantine facility are in good health and are in contact with their families.


We remain fully focused on the ongoing firefighting and salvage operation and will co-operate with the relevant investigations into the cause of the fire.


Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 4 - 29th May 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' report that firefighting operations to extinguish the blaze aboard the vessel have successfully reduced the area affected by flames and contained it to the aft of the ship, despite the adverse weather conditions.

Firefighting tugs will continue spraying and misting the vessel with support from the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian coastguard, who remain on scene.

As of 0945 Hours on May 29, 2021, Sri Lankan time, the salvors have confirmed that the vessel's hull remains structurally intact, as do the bunker tanks, and there has been no loss of oil into the port’s waters. The Sri Lankan Navy has also confirmed that there have been no oil sightings since the fire began.

Contractors continue working with local authorities on their third day of shoreline clean up efforts to safely dispose of the debris that has come ashore in some areas; this work is ongoing.

The crew member who was transferred to a special facility in a military hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 remains asymptomatic and is recovering from a leg injury sustained during his evacuation from the vessel. A second injured crew member continues to recover from his injuries in a local hospital.


All other crew members who remain in a Colombo quarantine facility are in good health and are in contact with their families.

We remain fully focused on the ongoing firefighting and salvage operation and will co-operate with the relevant investigations into the cause of the fire.


Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 3 - 27th May 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' can confirm that firefighting operations to extinguish the blaze aboard the vessel have continued through today despite the ongoing adverse weather conditions.

Firefighting tugs have constantly been spraying and misting the stricken vessel with support from the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian coastguard, who remain on scene. The ship remains at anchor off Colombo port.

The crew member who was transferred to a special facility in a military hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 remains asymptomatic and is recovering from a leg injury sustained during his evacuation from the vessel. A second injured crew member continues to recover from his injuries in a local hospital. All other crew members remain in a Colombo quarantine facility and are in good health and are in contact with their families.

Please note, reports that the vessel was denied entry into Hazira Port in India and Hamad Port in Qatar are incorrect. The vessel underwent discharge and loading operations in both ports before continuing on its planned journey to Colombo.

Applications had been made to both ports to offload a container that was leaking nitric acid but the advice given was there were no specialist facilities or expertise immediately available to deal with the leaking acid.

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 2 - 26th May 2021

X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' (IMO: 9875343) report that efforts to extinguish the fire onboard are ongoing with three firefighting tugs, helicopters and the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian coastguard on scene.


The vessel remains at anchor off Colombo port with firefighters and salvage experts flown in from Europe working with the local authorities in their efforts to save the vessel and its cargo, despite the adverse weather due to the onset of southwest monsoons.

 

The two crew members who received leg injuries during their evacuation from the ship on the morning of Tuesday, May 25 remain in hospital in a stable condition. One of the seafarers has since tested positive for Covid-19 and has been transferred to a special facility in a military hospital for further treatment, he remains asymptomatic. The other 23 crew members are in a Colombo quarantine facility and are in good health.

 

The crew members are in contact with their families and X-Press Feeders will continue to liaise with customers about their cargo.

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Statement 1 - 25th May 2021

X - Press Feeders, disponent owners/ operators, and managers of the container ship 'X-Press Pearl' (IMO: 9875343), report that all crew members were safely evacuated today from the vessel, after the fire incident onboard the vessel.

Despite the best efforts of salvors and firefighting tugs, the blaze had spread overnight, fanned by strong winds. With the crew's safety of utmost importance to X-Press Feeders, the decision was made to evacuate them.

 

X-Press Feeders will continue to work closely with the Sri Lankan authorities and emergency services with assistance from its appointed salvors to extinguish the blaze and to save the vessel and its cargo. Specialized firefighting equipment which arrived from Europe will join the salvaging operations.

 

The families of all the crew members have been advised of the safe evacuation of the respective crew, and we will continue to update them of any further developments.


X-Press Feeders will continue to liaise with customers with regard to their containers onboard the vessel.

 

Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

Previous Update 24th May

Fire/smoke still remains on board the vessel but is currently under control. More firefighting tugs have been deployed and they will continue to fight the fire. The salvage team with fire experts and firefighters are already on board the vessel and are carrying out the risk assessment. They have already taken steps to stop the spreading of fire into other areas.

All crew are safe.

We have been advised that special firefighting equipment will arrive tomorrow. We, therefore, remain hopeful that the fire will be put out by the salvage team at the soonest time possible.

X-Press Feeders regrets the current situation which is beyond our control.

We will continue to keep customers informed of developments onboard the vessel.

FAQ's

How did the fire start?

It is too early to tell how the fire started; our focus at the moment is on extinguishing the flames and ensuring the ongoing stability and safety of the vessel. Once the fire is out, there will be a full investigation into the cause of the fire and its spread.

How many containers is the vessel carrying, and what is in them? Are there Dangerous Goods containers?

There were 1486 containers on the vessel when the fire started, 81 of which were Dangerous Goods Containers, including 25 tonnes of Nitric Acid. The general cargo consists of foodstuffs; vehicles, vehicle parts and auto products; building and manufacturing supplies and raw materials; HDPE and LDPE nurdles and other general cargo. All of the containers were past fit for passage by Stevedores at their port of origin and have been transported in accordance with all of the relevant international shipping codes. It is believed that most of the cargo that was aboard the X-Press Pearl when the fire broke out has been incinerated.

What steps, if any, are taken to check dangerous cargoes of acid and deal with leaks?

The container was passed safe for transport by the stevedores in Jebel Ali, Dubai when it was loaded en route to Malaysia. Once the leak was discovered, the crew followed all of the established procedures under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods code in dealing with the situation.

Why was the leaking container not offloaded in India or Qatar?

The ship underwent discharge and loading operations in both Hamad Port in Qatar and Hazira Port in India before continuing on its planned journey to Colombo. Applications had been made to both ports to offload the container that was leaking nitric acid, but the advice given was there were no specialist facilities or expertise immediately available to deal with the leaking unit.

What bunkers is the vessel carrying?

The vessel was carrying 297 tonnes of Heavy Fuel Oil and 51 tonnes of Marine Fuel Oil.

Are oil spill response experts on standby in case there is a spill?

The appointed salvors are working with the local authorities in consultation with ITOPF and have established an oil spill response plan in case of any loss of oil.

How will X-Press Feeders pay for all this and any future claims?

The vessel is fully covered under internationally recognised P&I insurance and Hull and Machinery insurance.

Pollution clean - up and compensation insurance

The Vessel Xpress Pearl is entered with the London P&I Club for valid bunker oil pollution liabilities and valid clean- up costs - Certificate S068/37/SGP1145

Wreck Removal insurance

The Vessel Xpress Pearl is entered with the London P&I Club for valid wreck removal liabilities under the Nairobi Convention - Certificate S068/37/SGP1145

Phased response to the casualty

A. The Lloyds Open Form

The Owners entered into a Lloyds Open Form of Salvage Agreement with Smit as salvors on 21 May 2021. The vessel is now a wreck. A salvage contract is no longer the appropriate contract. The Owners together with their underwriters have terminated the LOF salvage contract with Smit on 11 June 2021. The LOF comes to an end on 16 June 2021.

B. Caretaker Agreement

The Owners and their P&I Club have appointed Resolve Marine for caretaker services on and around the wreck until a wreck removal order is issued by the Sri Lankan Authorities and a wreck removal operation put into
action. Resolve Marine were appointed on 9 June 2021. Resolve will be on site on 14 June for a handover with Smit.

Under the Caretaker Agreement , Resolve Marine will:

  1. Guarding the wreck to prevent potential secondary collisions with the wreck by other vessels.

  2. To instal navigational warning lights and markers on the wreck so that other vessels using the anchorage can see it .

  3. To monitor and report if any pollution including any light sheen that comes from the wreck so that Resolve Marine and ITOPF and OSRL can deal with it,

  4. To use side scan sonar to locate any sunken containers and debris in the anchorage.

  5. To identify any sunken containers and how best to remove it.

  6. To track and collect any debris that floats from the wreck,

  7. To prevent or minimise pollution from the wreck if safe and

    practical, to monitor the condition of the wreck and report daily for Government information

C. Wreck Removal Contract

The Owners and their P&I Club will draw up an Invitation to Tender for the removal or the wreck. This will be done with the guidance of Global Salvage Consultants. The invitation to tender will invite bids for the removal of the wreck from site and will ask the bidding parties to specify their methodology and price and terms of contraction. After all bids are received by a specified date, they will be evaluated and a decision made to appoint a wreck removal consultant. This will probably be in the form of one of the recognised BIMCO Wreck removal agreements. Due to the exposed nature of the anchorage to the prevailing South Westerly Monsoon, it is likely that the wreck removal phase will only commence in late 2021 Caretaker services will remain on site until then.

Pollution response

The Owners through their P&I Club have appointed international marine pollution responders to attend in Sri Lanka and advise on pollution control, clean up and compensation. This relates not only to oil pollution but also to cargo residues from the vessel on the shore line and in the waters adjacent to the wreck. They have appointed and mobilised :
(i) the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation ( ITOPF) - is a non- profit organisation and the leading advisers on oil and chemical spill response in a marine environment context following a spill. Their services will encompass spill response, claims analysis and damage assessment , contingency planning, monitoring and modelling fuel movements in the current to determine where it may come ashore, arrange beach and coastal clean- up and supervision through planning, information and training.
(ii) Oil Spill Response Limited ( OSRL) are a leading UK based oil and chemical response clean up organisation who have mobilised to site in Sri Lanka to coordinate and effect the clean- up of the coastline environment.
(iii) Resolve Marine under the Wreckhire Agreement shall conduct side scan sonar imaging to locate containers on the seabed so that a plan can be implemented to recover the cargo therein.

Risk of further spill of oil from the Vessel

  1. A light sheen of oil coming from the vessel. The sheen is about two nautical miles in length. It is then observed from aerial film footage to break up and dissipate.

  2. ITOPF and OSRL are fully aware of this sheen on the water coming from the wreck. They advise that it is breaking up and quickly becoming a silver sheen which is extremely thin.

  3. They advise that this light sheen is not likely to affect the coast. It will break up and dissipate in the water column.

  4. ITOPF and OSRL hear the government concerns and will advise on what can be done about the light sheen seen on the water.

  5. They remain of the view that notwithstanding light oil being seen on the surface in the form of this sheen, that the majority of the bunker oil on board, has probably burned

  6. ITOPF have issued a report dated 7 June based on their observations from site that there is little risk of a significant leak of oil from the vessel.

Deployment of oil booms on site

Oil booms are available to contain oil if required. Chemical Dispersants will be available on site on the Resolve Marine tugs. ITOPF and GSC advise that booms will not be effective in containing spilled surface oil in rough sea conditions similar to those currently prevailing in western Sri Lanka. Neither are they effective for containing a light sheen of oil on the surface. At present the advice of international experts such as ITOPF, Smit and Global Salvage Consultants is that they should not be used.

Compensation assessment and claims settling

Xpress Pearl is entered with the London P&I Club for valid pollution risks. She
carries a blue card which provides for pollution cover

Compensation payments and Interim Payment

  1. The Club will receive and evaluate all legitimate claims in consultation

    with GSC and ITOPF.

  2. The Club will evaluate all valid interim claims subject to claims being properly vouched, and reasonable.

  3. The Fisheries claims will receive priority attention as requested by MEPA.

  4. This process is under way.

 

Media Enquiries/Customer Enquiries

For all media enquiries  please contact: 

Andrew Leahy (Singapore): + 65 97735595

Pat Adamson (London): + 44 7836 766 947

For all customer/cargo-related enquiries please email: 

Xpresspearlcargo@x-pressfeeders.com