- The submarine robot that sealed the breaches of the wreckage was reassembled, and the anti-pollution ships returned to their ports.
- Whether by satellite or by air, surveillance of the sinking area will however continue.
- The wreck of the ship should stay at the bottom of the ocean.
A little over a month after the sinking of the Great America, in the Bay of Biscay 330 km from the French coast, the situation is now under control, and the
Atlantic Maritime Prefecture confirms that the spill has been avoided. However, it will continue to monitor the area where the wreckage is located.
What is the situation of the Great America ?
Following the sinking of the ship on 12 March, with 2,200 tonnes of heavy fuel oil in its tanks, one of the priorities was to locate the wreck, which is why the Italian shipowner Grimaldi was put on notice by the maritime prefect of the Atlantic to implement solutions. He then chartered the Norwegian specialized vessel Island Pride team
a Remoted Operated Vehicle (ROV). This one went to inspect by 4,600 meters of the wreck. "The underwater investigations of this remote control robot have shown that it was placed straight on a sandy bottom, buried several meters on its rear part" explains to 20 minutes Commander Riaz Akhoune, spokesman for the Atlantic Maritime Prefecture.
Then, "the objective was to determine where the visible irides on the surface came from, above the wreck," says the captain. "These were oil spills that had been coming from several vents of the ship. It was therefore necessary to find a way to close these vents, with the robot that plugged the holes and screwed plates on top. This is the first time that this type of operation is carried out with a robot at 4,600 meters deep, at least in the Atlantic. And then he stayed to check the tightness of the building. He left the wreck area on Friday, April 19th.
Are there any more pollution?
No, there is no more pollution and the French and Spanish ships chartered to pump them are now all returned to their ports. In addition, six containers that were adrift were collected and brought to the port of La Rochelle. "This does not prevent us from staying alert," says Riaz Akhoune. We continue to follow, for example, the Argos beacons that we had thrown at sea around the first sheets, and a pre-warning device is still in effect on the Atlantic coast. In addition, air assets continue to regularly monitor the area as well as the
EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency) Cleanseanet satellite system to ensure the absence of oil spills in the vertical of the wreckage. "Thanks to the work we have done,
to the hundreds of tons of heavy fuel that we have removed, we know that there will be no large-scale pollution, but there may still be some patties that arrive on the coast, without it being known precisely where nor when. "
What will become of the wreck of the Great America ?
For the moment no decision has been taken. It seems unlikely, however, that we are trying to get it out of the water, firstly because it is very deep, and partly because it has been weakened. "The shipowner will continue his watch work and perhaps offer on-site treatment," says Riaz Akhoune, "but the main thing for us is that the pollution was treated downstream and the leaks from the wreckage were arrested. "