Grimaldi Group’s con-ro vessel GRANDE AMERICA caught fire during the night of 10th/11th March in the Bay of Biscay and sunk earlier today, 12th March
There was no loss of life or injury among the 26 crew and one passenger who had left the vessel in the early hours of 11th March. The crew were picked up by the Royal Navy’s HMS ARGYLL and taken to Brest, unharmed.
The fire was caused by cargo loaded on board the vessel and the firefighting operation by the crew had to be discontinued when the ship had to be abandoned in order to avoid any risk for the crew’s safety.
The fire extinguishing operations, coordinated by the French Authorities, started early on 11th March with the tug ABEILLE BOURBON. Despite the best efforts, last night the French Authorities decided to suspend the fire fighting operations, as the vessel had begun to sustain quite a considerable list.
Grimaldi Group contracted salvage operations to Ardent, wose anchor handling tug (AHT), UNION LYNX, left Vigo in northern Spain during the night of 11th March with a 10-man salvage team on board.
The AHT was expected to arrive at the place of the incident at 20:00 hours local time today. In addition, a specialist fire-fighting vessel, TERAESA HAWK, left Rotterdam on 11th March and had an arrival time tomorrow evening.
Unfortunately, with the weather worsening and the vessel’s list getting more considerable, GRANDE AMERICA sank today at 15:26h local time, at about 140 nautical miles south west of Brest.
Grimaldi Group is now arranging, under the guidelines of the French Authorities, the prevention of any potential damage to the marine environment resulting from the vessel’s sinking.
The Grimaldi Group has expressed "its sincere gratitude and appreciation to the French Authorities for their dedication and professionalism in overseeing and supporting the salvage operations in the circumstances.
"Similar thanks should go to the Royal Navy, and to the crew of HMS ARGYLL, for having safely rescued the GRANDE AMERICA’s crew and passenger."