- 22 Filipino seamen were rescued from a cargo ship that listed off the coast of Spain
- The sailors were airlifted by Spanish search and rescue helicopters
- Strong winds and waves caused the ship to list at 40 degrees
Twenty two Filipino sailors were rescued by Spanish coast guard from a cargo ship that has tilted dangerously around 150 miles off the coast of Spain.
The all-Filipino crewmen of Modern Express, a 35,000-ton giant car carrier owned by European Ro Ro Lines, were evacuated by Spanish search and rescue helicopters from the stricken ship on Tuesday, January 26, after the captain put out an SOS distress call. The sailors were transported to the shore without injuries.
“The push-button alarm had been raised by the crew at 12:15 p.m. GMT and the signal was picked up by the medium frequency detection system. At no point did we talk to the crew directly during the operation. The vessel has now drifted into the French search and rescue area and is being dealt with by the French authorities,” a coastguard spokesperson said.
The 164-meter-long Panamanian ship was en route from Africa to France when strong winds and waves caused it to list at 40 degrees; causing its cargo of cars, and 3,600 tons of woods and construction materials to shift, wrote Charlotte Krol on her article for Telegraph published on January 27, 2016.
A French maritime official said the ship carries no hazardous cargo that would cause pollution. The only hazard is for navigation as it is drifting out of control in a busy shipping lane in the Cantabrian Sea.
Earlier attempts to tow the listed ship failed as swells of up to 16 feet caused the line between the towing vessel and Modern Express to snap. The attempt to tow the ship resumed on Saturday, January 30.
“Because the 164-meter-long vessel is listing at 40 to 50 degrees, towing it will be dangerous and difficult, but not impossible. Apparently it has reached its maximum tilt. However it’s certain that if it takes on water, it will sink. A boat doesn’t float indefinitely,” Yvon Mounes, a former commander of a high-seas tugboat, said.
Here’s a video of the listed cargo vessel:
And here’s a video of the rescue of 22 Filipino seamen: