Twenty seven persons have been evacuated from the fire stricken Italian flag and owned roll-on/roll-off container (ConRo) GRANDE AMERICA in the Bay of Biscay off the French coast, Maritime Prefecture of Atlantic said.
The 1997 built vessel caught fire around 150 miles southwest of Brest, France on Sunday 10th March, 2019 while she was underway to Casablanca in Morocco from Hamburg, Germany.
After reporting the fire to relevant authorities, the ship’s captain initially planned to move the ship to the Spanish Port of A Coruña. However, GRANDE AMERICA could not continue her course as the situation on board the vessel deteriorated, with the fire spreading to several containers.
A number of agencies have participated in the rescue operation and deployed their assets with the French navy deploying a helicopter to access the situation and the Royal Navy Type 23 Class Frigate HMS ARGYLL F 231 that evacuated twenty six crew members and one passenger in the early morning hours of March 11th of which she responded to the Mayday. The frigate was on her way home to Plymouth after a 9 month deployment in the Asia, Pacific region of which she called at Piraeus, Greece, Valletta, Malta and during the weekend HMNB Gibraltar.
Lieutenant Commander Dave Tetchner, HMS ARGYLL’s Weapon Engineer Officer said none suffered life threatening injuries but some would require hospital treatment and all were stunned by their ordeal. He added that the conditions were horrendous – the vessels were rolling at 30 degrees which made it extremely hairy getting the sailors safely on board
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