Italy-based Grimaldi Group is calling for more stringent controls and regulations related to the transport of dangerous cargo at sea following recent incidents in which cargo caught fire on two of its ships.
The Grande Europa ro-ro vehicle carrier loaded with 1,687 mostly new cars, vans, trucks and excavators, and 49 containers containing mainly food products caught fire on two separate decks while sailing 25nm from Palma de Mallorca.
Preliminary investigations of by Grimaldi Group suggest that the two fires started from two different new vehicles stowed on board, and then spread to the other nearby units.
Fifteen of the 25 crew members were evacuated by helicopter, with no injuries reported.
Subsequently the fire was extinguished, and the vessel towed to Palma.
Grimaldi senior management thanked the Grande Europa Master and crew for their professionalism and sense of duty demonstrated during the firefighting and evacuation operations.
In March the Grande America ro-ro vehicle carrier caught fire and sank in the Bay of Biscay after the crew was evacuated.
The fire was believed to have started in a single container and spread to other boxes on deck.
Grimaldi wants the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to mandate the certification by a classification society of the correct stuffing of containers carrying dangerous goods.
It also called for more controls on car batteries, which often cause short-circuits on board vessels, as well as in port terminals, and wants the total prohibition of personal effects in second-hand vehicles embarked on ro-ro vessels.