A salvage team was successful in their last ditch attempt to save the adrift cargo ship Modern Express from running aground along the French coast.
The ship was taken under tow Monday morning at 11:45 a.m. after a four-man team from SMIT Salvage boarded the vessel by helicopter and were able to connect a tow line.
The ship is under tow by the tug Centaurus, which is towing the vessel out to sea at a speed of 3 knots. The convoy was located 24 nautical miles from the coast as of 1:15 p.m.
It is important to note that the Modern Express is not out of danger yet, as the tow line could break potentially.
Weather on scene is reported to be winds of Force 4 (20 to 28 km / h) and waves of 3 to 3.5 meters.
The salvage team was lifted off the vessel by a French Navy helicopter before the tow commenced.
Earlier attempts to tow the vessel on Friday and again Saturday were thwarted by heavy weather, leaving the ship drifting towards the French coast in the Bay of Biscay. Weather on Sunday prevented salvors from ever boarding the vessel, making today’s attempt their last chance to rescue the vessel before running aground somewhere in vicinity of Landesdepartment (county) in France.
The Panamanian-flagged pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) Modern Express first developed a severe list on Tuesday while underway in the Bay of Biscay about 200 nautical miles from the southwest of the tip of Penmarch, France. From there the ship drifted eastward into French waters, covering hundreds of miles before the tow commenced some 24 nautical miles from Arcachon, France on Monday morning.
All 22 crew members were evacuated by Spanish search and rescue helicopters after issuing a MAYDAY call last Tuesday (Jan. 26).
The vessel is carrying 3,600 tons of timber and construction equipment, which is believed to have shifted in heavy seas. The vessel also has some 300 tons of diesel fuel aboard.
The Modern Express’s owner Cido Shipping hired SMIT Salvage to save the ship.
The incident occurred as the Modern Express was sailing from Gabon, Africa to the port of Le Havre, France.
Responding to the incident have been two contracted tugs, Centaurus and Ria Vigo, the French emergency tug Abeille Bourbon, the French Navy frigate Primauguet with a Lynx helicopter, and the AHTS Argonaute.
There have been no reports of pollution.