Posted on March 12, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
The Grimaldi-owned ConRo, Grande America, caught on fire in the evening of March 10th, as the vessel was transiting through the Bay of Biscay.
The incident occurred at approximately 19:00 UTC, some 150 miles southwest of Brest, France.
Initial communications with the French maritime agency, Premar Atlantique indicated that the vessel would try and seek refuge at A Coruña, Spain.
However, the fire quickly spread and as it grew out of control, the Master was forced to reassess his initial plan.
Furthermore, several containers started burning, further exacerbating the situation, as the vessel had to stop moving.
Fortunately, the Royal Navy responded to the distress call from the burning vessel, sending the HMS Argyll to assist the Grande America.
When the frigate arrived at the scene, the Master had just given the order for all hands to abandon ship, as they were unable to fight the rapidly spreading fire.
“We could see the vessel was in a pretty bad state. At some point, the fire got too extreme and the Master of the vessel decided that they were going to have to abandon ship. The conditions were horrendous – the vessels were rolling at 30 degrees which made it extremely hairy getting the sailors safely on board,” said Lieutenant Commander David Tetchner of the Royal Navy in a statement.
Thankfully, the HMS Argyll managed to successfully save all 27 crew members of the Grande America.
None of the crew received any life-threatening injuries, however some required hospital treatment due to smoke inhalation and other minor injuries.
The Grande America had left Hamburg, Germany and was bound for Casablanca, Morocco when the incident occurred.