The Grimaldi Group announces that its ro/ro vessel Grande Europa was hit by a fire that broke out on board during the night of the 15th May, while she was sailing about 25 miles from Palma de Mallorca.
Built in 1998, the Italian-flagged unit owned by the Neapolitan group had left the port of Salerno in the afternoon of Monday 13th May, bound to the Spanish port of Valencia. On board there were 25 crew members and a cargo consisting of 1,687 vehicles (cars, vans, trucks, excavators, etc), the vast majority of which were brand new, and 49 containers containing mainly food products.
The alarm was given by the crew at 00:45 a.m., due to a fire broken out on deck 3, which was completely extinguished by the crew itself after about 45 minutes. At 04:00 a.m., 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.
The Master of the vessel promptly informed the competent Italian and Spanish authorities as well as the headquarters of the Grimaldi Group in Naples of the two fires.
For precautionary reasons, at 09:30 a.m., 15 crew members were evacuated thanks to the intervention of a Spanish Coast Guard helicopter which transferred them to the Spanish Navy unit Martin Posadillo.
The firefighting operations continued also with the use of a Spanish firefighting tug. At 02:00 p.m. the fire was finally put out and the Grande Europa was assisted by a tug that towed it to the port of Palma de Mallorca, while she still had fully operational engines. The vessel arrived in Palma at 06.00 a.m., on May 16.
Preliminary investigations of the Grimaldi Group suggest that the two fires started from two different new vehicles stowed on board, and then spread to the other nearby units.
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.
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 ro/ro vessels.
Finally, with regard to containers, the International Maritime Organisation is urged to make mandatory the certification by a classification society of the correct stuffing of containers carrying dangerous goods.