Oil Slick Spotted Near Sunken Grande America Off France

grande america sinking
The MV Grande America on fire in the Bay of Biscay, March 12, 2019, shortly before sinking. Photo: Marine Nationale

French authorities said an oil slick measuring several miles long has been spotted in the vicinity of the sunken ship Grande America in the Bay of Biscay one day after its sinking.

The oil was spotted during an overflight of a French Navy Maritime Patrol Aircraft and confirmed by the response vessel VN Sapeur which remains in the area. 

France’s Maritime Prefecture for the Atlantic has ordered the immediate departure of the anti-pollution vessel Argonaute from Brest. The vessel is expected to arrive in the area on Thursday morning. The agency reports that the the spill measures ten kilometers long by one kilometer wide. It has requested the assistance from the European Agency for Maritime Safety (EMSA).

Weather on scene on Wednesday was reported to be force 6 winds of 39 to 49 km per hour and seas of 4 to 6 meters. 

Background

The Italian-registered Grande America sank Tuesday approximately 180 nautical miles from the French coast after fire broke out on the deck of the combination roll-on/roll-off vessel Sunday night. All 27 crew members on board were rescued safely. The vessel is located in a water depth of 4,600 meters

The Grande America is owned by the Italian shipping group Grimaldi. French authorities said they are working with the shipowner on the response to the incident.