January 30th, 2016. The salvage team contracted for the recovery of the stricken ro/ro Modern Express has been temporarily removed from the vessel as heavy swells complicated their efforts Friday to establish a tow line.
The French Prefecture Maritime de l’Atlantique reported that the team boarded the ship at 1345 hours, and upon reaching the bow they were able to pass a line to the tug Centaurus. Swells of 12 to 15 feet meant that the two vessels were moving significantly relative to each other, and the motion parted the line.
One salvor reportedly suffered a minor injury during the effort. French authorities did not provide further details (Ed Sibylline : injury on his shoulder).
With nightfall approaching, at 1600 hours the team stopped work on the salvage and were taken from the ship by helicopter.
The vessel is presently 150 nautical miles off La Rochelle, France, drifting to the east at about one knot (Ed Sibylline : it is now 200 km off the coast, in front of Bordeaux and it’s progressing to 5km/h).
Response assets on scene include the response tug Abeille Bourbon, the frigate Primauguet, the pollution control vessel Arogonaute, and two tugs contracted by SMIT.
Spanish Coast Guard assets rescued the 22-member crew of the listing ro/ro on Tuesday evening and brought them safely ashore.
The Express issued a distress signal when she was 130 nm off Cape Ortegal, Galicia, in the British zone of SAR responsibility for the Bay of Biscay. The evacuation was carried out by Spanish authorities, who provided three helicopters and one patrol aircraft.
The Panama-flagged, 10,000 dwt Modern Express was under way from Gabon to Le Havre with cargo of “3,600 tons of wood in bundles and a dozen pieces of heavy machinery” at the time that she began to list, French authorities said.
The Express is owned by Cido Shipping and operated by European Roro Lines, a specialist in ro/ro cargo to West Africa from Northern Europe.
Ed Sibylline : we wonder what kind of wood this Ro/ro transports ? Illegal logging (see Illegal logging porta) has arisen from the gabonnaises forests… In addition, there is something suspect, as described by a specialist of freight :
Bruno L. : To my students I explain what is a Ro/ro… Transport of vehicles… ” drive outside, drive inside “. Roll on/roll off… In the courses of the hydro, and in the information moreover, except for some containers planned on the deck and in the standards of “cargo ships” fixations, etc., I have never seen a wooden transport, while certain bulk carriers plan it, holds are made for, but there, it was about an undocking of cargo very similar to the old bulk carriers… And in the press coverage, we see well the wood logs which ripent in the hold of a stricken Ro/ro… So, or the medias are wrong or the IMO’s standards (IMO : International Maritime Organisation) are not respected…
It’s why Sibylline Oceans asked to Conservation and Justice and Global Witness’s NGOs (wood is out of our field) what they think about…