grande america fire

Burning ConRo Grande America Sinks in Bay of Biscay

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 354
March 12, 2019

Photo: Premar Atlantique

Update: The MV Grande America has sunk in Bay of Biscay in water depth of 4,600 meters, France’s Marine Nationale reported. The agency said ship sank at March 12, at 1526 local time about 180 nautical miles off France’s coast. 

Previous: The situation on board the Grimaldi Lines combination roll-on/roll-off containership Grande America worsened overnight in the Bay of Biscay as the fire continues to burn and the ship now listing fairly significantly to starboard.

Fire fighting by the emergency tug Abeille Bourbon, which has contributed to the list, has been suspended.

About ten containers fell into the water near the ship overnight, officials said.

The Abeille Bourbon has now left the area of ??operations, relieved by the offshore supply vessel VN Sapeur which sailed from the port of Brest Monday night.

The Grande America continues to drift slowly to the east and was located about 200 nautical miles (350 kilometers) off the coast of France as of Tuesday.

Grimaldi Lines has contracted the marine salvage company Ardent, which has contracted two tugs to respond to the incident: the Union Lynx from Vigo, Spain and Tera Sea Hawk from Rotterdam. The tugs are expected to arrive on scene Tuesday night and Wednesday, respectively.

Officials said Tuesday that a sharp deterioration of weather conditions is expected in the area over the next 48 hours which will limit salvage operations.

French authorities reported winds 30-35 knots, gusting to 50 knots, with seas of 4 to 5 meters.

Incident Background

The fire on board the Italian-flagged Grande America broke out Sunday night as the ship was underway in the Bay of Biscay during a voyage from Hamburg, Germany to Casablanca, Morocco. The fire is primarily located in cargo containers in the forward portion of the ship.

All 27 crew members abandoned ship in a lifeboat and later rescued by British frigate HMS Argyll and brought ashore in Brest.

No major injuries were reported, although several of the crew members were treated for smoke inhalation.

The 213-meter, 27,965 dwt Grande America was built in 1997. 

Video below shows the vessel on Tuesday:

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