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Naples, 12th March 2019: The Grimaldi Group sadly announces that its RoRo container vessel, Grande America, who caught fire the night of March 10/11 in the Bay of Biscay has sunk this afternoon. We are pleased to confirm that there was no loss of life or injury among the 26 crew and one passenger who had left the vessel in the early hours of March 11 and were picked up by HMS Argyll and taken to Brest, where all are safe and sound.

The fire was caused by some cargo loaded on board the vessel and the firefighting operation by the crew had to be discontinued when the ship had to be abandoned in order to avoid any risk for the crew’s safety.

The fire extinguishing operations, coordinated by the French Authorities, started yesterday morning with the tug Abeille Bourbon. Despite the best efforts, last night the French Authorities decided to suspend the fire fighting operations, as the vessel had begun to sustain quite a considerable list.

After the fire brought up, the Grimaldi Group promptly entrusted the international leading salvour company Ardent with the salvage operations. In this respect, the anchor handling tug, Union Lynx, left Vigo (North Spain) during the night of March 11 with a ten man salvage team onboard and was expected to arrive at the place of the incident at 20:00 hours local time today. As well, the specialist fire-fighting vessel, Terasea Hawk, left Rotterdam on March 11 and had an arrival time tomorrow evening.

Unfortunately, with the weather worsening and the vessel’s list getting more considerable, the Grande America sank today at 15:26 hours local time, at about 140 nautical miles south west from Brest, at the position 46 04’ 8 N 05 47’ 4 W and a depth of 4,600 metres.

The Grimaldi Group is now arranging, under the guidelines of the French Authorities, the prevention of any potential damage to the marine environment resulting from the vessel’s sinking.

The Grimaldi Group takes the opportunity to express its sincere gratitude and appreciation to the French Authorities for their dedication and professionalism in overseeing and supporting the salvage operations in the circumstances.

Similar thanks should go to the Royal Navy, and to the crew of HMS Argyll, for having safely rescued the Grande America’s crew and passenger.

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