France Confirms Oil Slick after Grande America Sinks

French authorities have detected an oil slick at the sinking site of the ro-ro container vessel Grande America, according to the Maritime Prefecture of Atlantic.

The slick was detected in the afternoon hours of March 13 during an overflight by French Navy aircraft. The oil traces were confirmed by offshore supply ship VN SAPEUR, which remained at the site after the fire-stricken ConRo sank.

At the time, the Maritime Prefecture of Atlantic said that the oil slick was about ten kilometers long and one kilometer wide. French authorities dispatched the offshore supply ship Argonaute from Brest, and reportedly three additional vessels, to help with the oil cleanup operations.

European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was asked for assistance with pollution control.

The vessel was loaded with 365 containers, 45 of which were listed as containing hazardous materials, local media cited the Maritime Prefecture of Atlantic. The ship also had 2,200 tons of fuel in its bunkers.

The 1997-built Grande America suffered a fire on March 10 while en route from Hamburg to Casablanca, and subsequently developed a worsening starboard list. It sank in the afternoon hours of March 12 in the Bay of Biscay, some 180 nautical miles west of the French coast in a water depth of around 4,600 meters.

The vessel’s owner Grimaldi earlier appointed the salvage company Ardent to provide assistance with the incident.

World Maritime News Staff