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 15 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 13 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, on 15 May 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 16 May.
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.
The top management of the Neapolitan group wishes to express its appreciation for the success of the firefighting operations on board the Grande Europa. In particular, they welcome the fact that there has been no loss of lives and that the risk of environmental damage has been averted.
The Grimaldi Group takes the opportunity to express its sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Spanish and Italian authorities, especially to the Spanish Coast Guard and the Spanish Navy, for their prompt intervention, and to the personnel of IMRCC Rome Italian Coast Guard Headquarters. Special thanks go to the crew of the Martin Posadillo, for safely evacuating part of the crew of the Grande Europa.
Finally, the Grimaldi Group wishes to thank the Master of the vessel and all the crew for the great professionalism and sense of duty that they demonstrated during the firefighting and evacuation operations.
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.