COLOMBO : X-Press Feeders has contracted Chinese state-owned salvage company Shanghai Salvage to recover the wreckage of the X-Press Pearl, which was destroyed in a fire off Sri Lanka, as the company faces a second compensation claim from the Indian Ocean nation.
The newly built 2,756TEU X-Press Pearl, which Singapore-based X-Press Feeders assigned to a Straits-Middle East service caught fire on 20 May, shortly after arriving at Colombo, Sri Lanka. The fire is believed to have been caused by chemical cargoes on the ship and rendered the vessel a total loss. All its 25 crew members were evacuated, but eight of them have been detained to assist with the investigations into the disaster.
The X-Press Pearl remains are now resting 21 metres below the sea and any operation to remove the wreckage can only begin until after Sri Lanka’s southwestern monsoon season from May – September.
Shanghai Salvage, also known as China Offshore Engineering Solutions, has mobilised the equipment needed for the operation, said X-Press Feeders.
Recently, X-Press Feeders said it had received another compensation demand from the Sri Lankan government, and its P&I club, London P&I Club, is reviewing the claim. This came after the company settled an initial US$3.6 million claim in July.
The destruction of the X-Press Pearl saw an estimated 11,000 tonnes of plastic nurdles wash up on Sri Lanka’s beaches, causing the government to call in the army to help with the clean-up.
The Sri Lankan government has described the catastrophe as the country’s largest-ever single plastics pollution incident, with hundreds of marine lives lost.