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Monday, February 1, 2016

Modern Express heading for French coasts lists at Bay of Biscay

The enchanting Marina beach offers lot of things – cool breeze, waves rushing to the shore – even as one downs in the sand, another one raises, calmness, multitude of people, sea-shells, stray horse, street dogs, catamarans and boats [people sitting nearby !], hawkers, pigeons, crabs .. ..  and more.  As we sit and look at the ships far off – thought would meander of those old days when people sailed in wooden boats without navigational aids ..real adventurers. Sea faring has attracted men despite the great challenges the unfathomable sea posed.  A ship is most attractive to watch …. Perhaps not when it is listing !!!

Thousands of miles away is the ‘Bay of Biscay’ – the  gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea that basins – Ireland, England, Wales and France.  It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border. The Bay of Biscay is named  after Biscay on the northern Spanish coast, probably standing for the western Basque districts. 

It is not so calm. Some of the fiercest weather conditions of the Atlantic Ocean can be witnessed in the Biscay Bay. The area is home to large storms during the winter months and there have been countless ships wrecksreported from the area as a result of the gruesome weather. The weather in the Bay of Biscay is the most vital thing to be worried and talked about  .. … ….and there is a latest addition to it – the ‘Modern Express’.

The Panama registered – now abandoned ship – Modern Express is headed for the French coast, France's Marine Nationale reported. Authorities have been attempting to right the vessel before it runs aground, but have not been successful due to bad weather conditions.The vessel started keeling on 26th January and the 22 crew members were immediately airlifted by Spanish rescue helicopters. The ship continued to drift through the Bay of Biscay and is nearing the resort town of Arcachon in France. It is predicted to run aground between 1 and 2 February in the Landes administrative department near Arcachon.

Modern Express was transporting 3,600 tonnes of wood along with construction machinery from Gabon to France. The carrier holds 300 tonnes of diesel but according to a report by the Maritime Prefect, the fuel is currently secure and there have been no signs of a leak.Though some reports of apprehensive of a possible oil slick too.  The stricken cargo ship is heading towards the French coast but there are hopes it can be towed to safety before it runs aground.

Reports suggest that initial attempt to tow failed and another attempt is now mounted.  If it fails, the ship will strike France's Atlantic coast between Monday night and Tuesday morning.Bad weather hindered rescue efforts on Sunday, two days after a tow line to the 164-metre (538ft) vessel was broken in rough seas. The spokesperson of Atlantic Maritime Prefecture, is quoted as saying that it was now "totally impossible to put the cargo ship upright".Around 300 tonnes of fuel are on board, French authorities say. The Sud-Ouest newspaper reported (in French) that emergency measures would be put in place if the ship runs aground in order to contain the fuel and remove it.In 2002, the Prestige oil tanker sank off the coast of northern Spain, spilling 50,000 tonnes of oil and polluting thousands of miles of coast.

So another ship, another time, touching the ground !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st Feb 2016

Bibliography : BBC; www.ibtimes.co.uk; www.charlotteobserver.com

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