Fire on vessel in Bay of Biscay, crew evacuated

General cargo ship Guana (IMO 9180956) suffered a fire in its engine room shortly before midnight on December 26th when it was in the Bay of Biscay, southwest of Brest. The vessel was en route from Immingham, UK to Iskenderun, eastern Turkiye, carrying a cargo of iron.

The fire was extinguished by the crew, but the ship was disabled and the crew were unable to fix the problem. Salvage tug Abeille Bourbon was sent to assist.

The Prefect Maritime de l’Atlantique said that it received a distress call at around 01:15 on December 27th.

During the day the French Maritime Prefect posted a warning for a severe gale in the northern parts of the Bay of Biscay and along the Atlantic coastline. They were forecasting Force 8 wind gusts and very strong seas. With its engine out of service, the Guana reported it was unable to manoeuvre. Later the captain said they were unable to make repairs. At 13:50 on December 27th he notified the emergency services of their intent to evacuate part or all of the crew from the ship. The crew said that, given the deteriorating weather conditions, they did not feel safe onboard. The abandonment therefore appears not to have been the result of an order from the Captain because the ship was seen as in danger of sinking, as a crew-led abandonment because they feared such a danger was possible.

Spanish hospital ship Esperanza del Mar was in the area and responded. With the assistance of a helicopter from the French Navy, they were able to airlift six crewmembers to the hospital ship. The remaining 12 crewmembers were flown to the French Navy’s air base in Lanveoc-Poulmic.

1999-built, Panama-flagged, 12,388 gt Guana is owned by Marmara Islands Shipping Corp of Istanbul, Turkiye. It is managed by Arel Denizcilik Ticaret. As of January 3rd it remained moored at Brest.