Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cargo Ship Finally Under Tow After a Week Adrift

Listing Vessel Headed for Port
Shipping News Feature
FRANCE – A stricken cargo ship that has for the past week been slowly drifting towards the French coast, is now successfully under tow, following previous failed attempts. The 10,000 tonne Modern Express was on her way from Gabon to Le Havre, France when she lost her engines in a heavy storm early last week, off the northern Spanish coast and 200 miles off the French south-western coast in the Bay of Biscay. Her crew of 22 were safely evacuated on January 26th as she began listing at 40 degrees after her cargo of timber and machinery shifted in heavy seas.

A mixture of bad weather conditions during the course of the week and the severe, increasing list made salvage attempts difficult and fears were that she would founder if nothing could be done to right her, or tow her to safe harbour. Specialists from Smit Salvage eventually managed to attach tow lines to the vessel on February 1, after conditions became fairer, in what some say was the last weather window before the possibility of grounding became a certainty.

The 164-metre-long, Panamanian-flagged car carrier is now on her way to the Spanish port of Bilbao at a speed of around 2 or 3 knots. Owners of the vessel, Cido Shipping, called in Smit after the crew were safely rescued from the vessel. The Modern Express is led by the tug Centaurus and, as of this morning (February 2) has entered the Spanish Exclusive Economic Zone, and is expected to reach port in the evening.

Photo: Taken February 2 courtesy of Marine Nationale.