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PALMA DI MALLORCA: May 20, 2019. Prompted by a second fire on one of its ConRo vessels in just over two months, the Grimaldi Group has called for “more stringent controls and regulations” on the carriage of both vehicles and containers aboard ship.

The Grimaldi ConRo vessel Grande Europa was hit by a fire that broke out during the night of May 15 while 25 miles offshore Palma de Mallorca sailing from Salerno to Valencia.

Grimaldi Grand Europa ConRo vesselIn addition to 25 crewmembers, the ship was carrying 1,687 vehicles including cars, vans, trucks and excavators plus 49 containers of mainly food products.

The first fire began on deck three that was put out by the crew in less than hour and then at 04:00 a second fire broke out on deck eight of the ship that then spread to deck nine.

By 14:00 the crew, with assistance from a Spanish firefighting tug, had put out the fire and the vessel was subsequently towed to the port of Palma de Mallorca.

The company says a preliminary investigation suggests the two fires started from two different new vehicles stowed on board, and then spread to nearby units.

“Following the umpteenth case of a fire that broke out on vehicles transported by cargo vessels,” says Grimaldi, the company wants more control on car batteries “which often cause short-circuits on board vessels, as well as in port terminals”.

Grimaldi also wants a total ban on personal effects in second-hand vehicles carried by RoRo vessels and calls on the International Maritime Organisation to make mandatory the certification by a classification society of the correct stuffing of containers carrying dangerous goods.

In March this year the Grimaldi ConRo vessel Grande America caught fire and sank in the Bay of Biscay en route to its first port call of Casablanca. The ship was transporting 2,210 vehicles and 365 containers, of which 45 were IMO-classified hazardous cargo.

Picture courtesy Spanish government rescue agency Salvamento Marîtimo.

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