Health and safety

Grande America sinking shows profitability more important than crew

20 May 2019

The sinking of the Grande America roll-on/roll-off containership off France in March shows that profitability is more important than human life, security and the environment, according to French FOMM-CGT maritime officers’ union general secretary Jean-Philippe Chateil.

The 27,965tonne vessel caught fire and sank to a depth of 4,000m releasing more than 2,000tonnes of fuel and boxes containing toxic products.

The crew of the 1997-built, Italian-flagged box ship was evacuated following efforts to extinguish the fire.  

Mr Chateil said that there remained inadequate control of containerised goods to be transported, despite changes to Solas to mitigate the risk of dangerous items onboard – and blamed a lack of international rules under the ultra-free market economy.  

'Such lack of control is an obvious risk, not only to crews, but also to dockers, customs officials and personnel on temporary contracts in regular contact with toxic gases products and gases,' he said.

Solas Regulation 2 Chapter VI requires mandatory container weighing prior to loading.  

FOMM-CGT wants France to take a clear position with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the European Maritime Safety Association (EMSA) to strengthen controls on containerized goods, and to step up controls on FoC shipping.

The Union also wants any vessel detained twice in a European port be banned from EU waters even if the ship in question has re-flagged or changed name.


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