Grimaldi calls for tougher cargo controls after fire on Grande Europa

Italy-based Grimaldi Group has called for tougher controls and regulations following a number of recent incidents in which cargo caught fire.

The shipowner issued the statement after a fire last week on board Grimaldi Lines RoRo vehicle carrier Grande Europa (IMO 9138381) on May 15th, about 25 miles from Palma de Mallorca. The fire resulted in the evacuation of 15 of the 25 crew members on board. There were no injuries reported. The fire was subsequently put out and the vessel towed to Palma.

Grimaldi said that the vessel was loaded with 1,687 mostly new vehicles as well as 49 containers containing mainly food products.

Grimaldi said that its preliminary investigations indicated there were two separate fires, both of which broke out in vehicles stowed on board:

“The alarm was given by the crew at 00:45 due to a fire on deck 3, which was completely extinguished by the crew itself after about 45 minutes. At 04:00 a second fire was located on deck 8, which spread to deck 9; also here, the crew promptly intervened with the firefighting equipment on board”, Grimaldi said.

There was a fire on Grimaldi Lines roll-on/roll-off containership Grande America in the Bay of Biscay in March, which in that case led to the vessel sinking.

Grimaldi said that “following the umpteenth case of a fire that broke out on vehicles transported by cargo vessels, the Grimaldi Group launches an appeal to introduce more stringent controls and regulations on cargo sea transport, not only for rolling units but also for containers”, adding that “notably, with reference to rolling freight, the Grimaldi Group requests that there be more controls on car batteries, which often cause short-circuits on board vessels, as well as in port terminals. Moreover, it calls for the total prohibition of the presence of personal effects in second-hand vehicles, embarked on RoRo vessels. Finally, with regard to containers, the International Maritime Organization is urged to make mandatory the certification by a classification society of the correct stuffing of containers carrying dangerous goods”.

Meanwhile early on May 16th the Grande Europa was berthed at the Muelles Commerciales Ro-Ro Terminal in Palma. The ship was towed by the Marta Mata into the commercial port in favourable weather conditions.

It was ruled that there was no imminent risk of sinking; neither did the ship suffer structural damage or leak. She remained watertight. No more smoke was detected and the thermal images showed a drop in the temperature of the hull.

Grimaldi has hired Ardent for the tasks of fire control and emergency response. A team of experts, including divers, firemen, and other specialists in maritime emergencies, was to embark on the ship during the day. Anti-pollution vessel Clara Campoamor arrived around 07:20.

1998-built, Italy-flagged, 51,714 gt Grande Europa is owned and ISM managed by Grimaldi Euromed SpA and commercial managed by Grimaldi Group SpA, of Naples, Italy. It is entered with Standard Club (European Division) on behalf of Grimaldi Euromed SpA. Norwegian Hull Club is claims leader for Hull and Machinery on behalf of Grimaldi Group SpA, with Gard having a subscription position.