VIDEO: X-Press Pearl sinks at stern

Written by Nick Blenkey
Burned out shell of containership seen from air

Imagery from Sri Lanka Air Force shows smoke still coming from smoldering remains of nearly new container vessel

A virtually new containership that has been on fire off Sri Lanka since May 20 partially sank today, just as salvage efforts were seeming to show some progress.

As we reported earlier, the 2021-built, 2,700 TEU X-Press Pearl was at anchor, some 9 nautical miles outside the port of Colombo, when fire broke out in a box in the deck stacks. The fire is believed to have been caused by a reaction to chemicals in the containers. Efforts to deal with the fire have been ongoing since then.

Meantime pollution from the ship has caused extensive shoreline damage and has led to a suspension of some fisheries activities.

Today, the vessel operator, Singapore-based X-Press Feeders, said: “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 forward area of the vessel remains afloat with smoke coming out of Cargo Holds No 1 and 2.”

What happens next to the wreck remains to be seen, but the Sri Lankan authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the casualty and local media report that police have been questioning crew members who were evacuated from the ship after the fire broke out.

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