Grimaldi outlines Grande America cargo losses

As the clean-up operation gets under way, Grimaldi Group lists cargo losses from Grande America. Credit: WikiMedia

As the clean-up operation gets under way, Grimaldi Group lists cargo losses from Grande America. Credit: WikiMedia

Italy-based container shipping line Grimaldi has listed the cargo losses on the Grande America vessel, which sank off the coast of France following a cargo fire earlier this week.

The ship was en route from Germany to Morocco when cargo in a container on the vessel’s weather deck caught fire. The fire spread to other boxes and eventually led to the ship listing heavily and finally sinking on 12 March.

Following the loss of the vessel, an oil slick 10 kilometers (km) long and 1 km wide has appeared near the wreck and reports say that the oil – 2,200 tonnes of bunker fuel, is expected to reach the Brittany coast by 17 March.

In a statement Grimaldi Group said it had dispatched a vessel to the area of the accident to monitor the oil spill and is organizing the recovery of any floating containers.

“A Grimaldi-appointed team of experts in marine casualties and pollution prevention is already in Brest in order to monitor the environmental situation and advise on any further measures, always in coordination with the French authorities,” said the statement.

The vessel was lost in a deep-sea area and is now lying at a depth of 4,600 meters (2.86 miles). A survey of the ship will be carried out by a remotely operated submarine.

Grande America had a roll-on/roll-off cargo of 2,210 vehicles, of which 1,298 were new vehicles from major manufacturers.

In addition, there were 365 containers onboard, 247 of which were stowed on the weather deck with the remainder below deck. Some 78 percent of the containers were bound for South America, with the rest set to be discharged in West Africa, mainly in Casablanca.

There were 45 containers with IMO-classified hazardous cargo; 34 of these were stowed on the weather deck and the rest were inside the vessel.

There is an internal investigation that is continuing to identify precisely which container caught fire. Nothing can be confirmed yet, said a Grimaldi spokesman.

The vessel had been due to call at ports in Guinea and Senegal in West Africa, before crossing the Atlantic to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.