A Panamanian-flagged car carrier has been evacuated after a loss of stability incident in the Bay of Biscay.
Spain’s search and rescue agency Salvamento Maritimo responded Tuesday afternoon following a distress call from the roll-on/roll-off pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) Modern Express located 148 miles off Cape Ortegal.
All 22 crew members of the ship were evacuated by two Spanish search and rescue helicopters. Sixteen crew members were evacuated by Rescue Helicopter Helimer 401 and brought to La Coruña airport in northwestern Spain. The other 6 crew were transferred to Celeiro, Spain by Rescue Helicopter Pesca II. All are in good condition.
The vessel was listing by about 40 degrees, with winds on scene reported to be Force 8 with heavy seas, Salvamento Maritimo reported Tuesday.
The search and rescue was being coordinated by the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) in Falmouth in the United Kingdom, with help from National Coordination Centre (Madrid). The vessel has since drifted into French waters.
An update Wednesday from the French Navy said it has dispatched the emergency towing vesselAbeille Bourbon to retrieve the vessel, arriving on scene sometime during the day Wednesday.
According to France’s Maritime Prefect, the Modern Express is loaded with 3,600 tons of wood and construction equipment.
The 10,454 dwt Modern Express was built in 2001 and is 164 meters long. The vessel was sailing from the country of Gabon to Le Havre, France.
UPDATE: Modern Express Taking on Water, Further Adrift
Image Courtesy: Premar Atlantique
The list of the Panamanian-flagged car carrier Modern Express, now at around 50 degrees, is gradually increasing as the vessel continues to drift about 370 km west of La Rochelle, France.
According to the French Maritime Authority, the heavy list indicated that the vessel, carrying 3600 tons of timber and construction machinery, is taking on water.
A Falcon 50 aircraft and an intervention, assistance and rescue tug Abeille Bourbon were sent to keep an eye on the situation, however, due to inclement weather at the site, further investigation of the 10,454 dwt vessel was not possible.
The tug will stay in Modern Express’ vicinity to oversee the safety of maritime activities.
The authority added that SMIT Salvage, a Dutch maritime company, was hired by the vessel’s owner to remove the vessel from this major shipping lane.
Modern Express’ crew of 22 people was evacuated on Tuesday afternoon as the vessel started listing some 148 miles off Cape Ortegal, Galicia, in the Bay of Biscay.
The 2001-built Modern Express, operated by European RoRo Lines, was on its way from Gabon, Africa to Le Havre, France when it started listing.