Update: Modern Express’ Grounding Avoided, Ship Heading to Bilbao

The danger of grounding of the ill-fated car carrier Modern Express has been avoided as the ship has been towed away from the French coast, French Maritime Authority said.

Namely, based on the latest update, the ship is currently some 65 kilometers off the coast, towed west by Spanish tug Centaurus some 2 knots per hour. Before being put under tow the drifting car carrier approached the coast at 42 kilometers, posing a risk of hitting the shore of Landes and causing a risk of oil spilling. The ship has been towed to a safe distance now.

As informed, the Spanish authorities have accepted the request from the shipowner to tow the ship to Bilbao, Spain where the ship is heading at the moment.

It is expected that the towing convoy, comprising of the stricken ship and Centaurus, anti-submarine frigate Primauguet, with a Lynx helicopter on board, the tug L’Abeille Bourbon and a support ship Argonaute chartered by the French Navy, could reach the port on Wednesday.

Weather in the area is still rough with wind force 4 and waves up to 3.5 meters high.

The four-member salvage team of SMIT Salvage managed to board the stricken car carrier on Monday morning and attach the tow line, following a couple of unsuccessful attempts that hampered the operation.

Modern Express, loaded with 3600 tons of timber and construction machinery, ran into trouble on January 26 when it started listing some 240 km off Cape Ortegal, Galicia, in the Bay of Biscay. The ship is carrying 300 tonnes of fuel onboard.

World Maritime News Staff

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