Weather improves at site of Grande America sinking

Weather conditions at the site of the sinking of Conro Grande America (IMO 9130937) in the Bay of Biscay had improved significantly by March 20th, A comprehensive pollution control system was put in place.

Spanish tugs Alonso de Chaves and Maria de Maetzu, as well as the VN Partisan with tug TSM Kermor worked continuously on the pollution emitted by the ship on the day of its sinking. That slick consisted of clusters of heavy fuel oil scattered on the surface.

Argonaute, VN Sapeur, Rhône and the Ria de Vigo were also helping. Offshore dams have been deployed, using trawl techniques to confine the pollutants and then pump them aboard the pollution control vessels.

The improved weather conditions made possible a better aerial observation of the pollution. Several maritime surveillance flights were conducted by Navy aircraft and an aircraft from Finist’air, chartered by the shipowner. The flights enabled the location (again) of five containers and also of two inflatable rafts. These positions were forwarded to the shipowner who were planning the container recoveries in coordination with the Atlantic Maritime Prefecture.

Above the site of the wreck could be seen a surface iridescence, dotted with clumps of heavy fuel oil. Small clumps of oil scattered which produce a lot of surface iridescence with an average size of between 50 and 100 cm were drifting away. However, any arrival on the French coast of clusters of HFO were deemed unlikely during the next 10 days.

Samples were taken at sea in the morning of March 20th by the Argonaute and transferred for analysis to Cedar and LASEM by the Cayman Navy helicopter. Meanwhile the Maxiplon of the Société Atlantique Scaphandre which has been chartered by the shipowner, proceeded to the recovery, towing one of the two rescue boats to Port-Joinville. Tug Union Lynx, also chartered by the shipowner, towed a container loaded with non-hazardous material to the port of La Rochelle, where it arrived at midday on March 20th.

1997-built, Italy-flagged, 56,642 gt Grande America is owned and managed by Grimaldi Group of Naples, Italy. It is entered with North of England Club on behalf of Grimaldi Deep Sea SpA.

Hull & machinery is with Norwegian Hull Club (as arranger) and other insurers, among them Siat and Generali.