Ocean Infinity Completes Subsea Operations on Sunken Grande America

grande america conro fire
The MV Grande America on fire in the Bay of Biscay, March 11, 2019. Photo: Premar Atlantic

US-based subsea firm Ocean Infinity announced Wednesday it has completed the subsea inspection of the Grande America, which sank in the Bay of Biscay last month.

Ocean Infinity previously entered into an agreement with salvage firm Ardent which entailed conducting the subsea search, inspection and operations on the wreck.

The company used its fleet of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles to locate the wreck, while Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVs) carried out inspection and operations, including plugging leaks in the vessel.

The Grimaldi Lines roll-on/roll-off cargo ship Grand America caught fire and sank in the Bay of Biscay on March 12. All 27 crew members were rescued by a British Royal Navy ship. The Grande America was carrying a total of 2,210 vehicles when it sank.

The mission to locate and inspect the wreck was conducted from Ocean Infinity’s vessel Island Pride which had been in Gibraltar prior to this project.

According to French authorities, the wreck of the Grande America was discovered at a depth of 4,600 meters, in an upright and strait position on the sandy bottom with its stern buried in several meters of sand. Several light leaks of oil were also reported from vents in the ship’s ballast tanks, which Island Pride’s ROV helped shut off.

Credit: Premar Atlantic

“We are pleased that we were able to rapidly deploy Island Pride, in answer to the call for assistance following the loss,” said Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity’s CEO. “At a depth of approximately 4,600m, our data gathering technology was used to assess the state of the wreck, and the high quality imagery that we collected was pivotal in guiding our ROV team in executing the subsequent intervention.”

With its fleet of advanced AUVs and three vessels stationed around the world, Houston-based Ocean Infinity has earned a reputation for conducting some of the highest-profile subsea searches in recent years. The company is credited with locating the missing Argentine submarine ARA San Juan off the coast of Patagonia and the Stellar Daisy VLOC which sank in the South Atlantic. It also performed the private search for missing flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean, although the search ultimately turned up empty.

“Emergency response, whether it’s a loss of assets, damaged infrastructure or where there is the potential for environmental impact, is a key part of Ocean Infinity’s offering. With three permanently mobilised highly capable vessels, each with a complete set of the latest deep water technology tools, deployed across the globe, we are uniquely placed to react quickly to crisis situations across the world’s oceans.”