Modern Express reaches the Port of Bilbao

For Associated Press Television News (Wikono, 03 February 2016)

The Panamanian – registered cargo ship Modern Express has run aground on the Port of Bilbao today after being drifted to the French Atlantic coast on January 26.

Video in Spanish

During the operation to tow the listing cargo, four drag lines have been placed to ensure safe entry. According to local media, five technicians have accessed the cargo ship by two helicopters and seven tugboats have participated in the operation in coordination with several maritime authorities. The operation has lasted all day as the bad weather conditions have complicated the works.

Yesterday, Spanish Merchant Marine accepted the request from French authorities to tow the ship to the port of Bilbao. The decision was made following a meeting between several maritime authorities, in which it was agreed that the safety and weather conditions made preferable to execute the towing operations today.


2016_02_03_Cargo ship Modern Express reaches the Port of Bilbao
Image: Miren Hurtado


For a week, French and Spanish officials have tried to control the Modern Express but several mechanical failures and adverse weather conditions have complicated the effort. The ship was transporting 3,600 tons of timber and construction machinery from Gabon to France when it started listing near the Bay of Biscay due to shifting of cargo in the hold. The ship’s crew sent a distress signal with the vessel listing badly and facing up to rough weather conditions.

Spanish authorities have reported that the 22 crew members, all Filipino nationals, of the 164 metre long Modern Express were evacuated by Spanish rescue helicopters. Modern Express has been towed by Spanish tugboat Centaurus after members of SMIT Salvage managed to board the stricken car carrier on Monday morning and attach the tow line, following earlier unsuccessful attempts.

According to crew members, the ship was carrying around 300 tonnes of fuel and 180 tonnes of diesel onboard. Before being put under tow, the drifting car carrier approached the French coast at 42 kilometres, posing a risk of hitting the shore of the Landes and causing a risk of oil spilling. French authorities have said that this had presented a limited risk of pollution.


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