The Modern Express: uprighted but not right

2 Mar 2016

The Modern Express was uprighted on February 22. “For the purposes of the investigation,” the Spanish authorities denied access to the experts, ship-owners, charterers and their representatives until February 26.

Technically speaking, the Modern Express is a roll-on roll-off ship -Pure Car and Truck Carrier- in other words, it is only used for transporting rolling stock.

The Modern Express was loaded with 3600 tons of timber (or 4089 tons according to other sources), divided into four types: okan, azobe, tali and construction machinery. The exotic timbers should have been unloaded in Le Havre and was meant to be sent to European companies.

The cause or the causes of the near capsize remain unknown. The Filipino crew returned home immediately after Spanish helicopters rescued by. The owner of the Modern Express is Chinese and the charterer -or in other words the user- is French-Belgian.

The fate of the vessel and her cargo remain unknown. Gabon, Robin des Bois and Greenpeace requested the full disclosure of the quantities, species and origins of the timber aboard. In fact, it appears that the Modern Express routinely imports timber to Europe upon her return from Africa. Departing from Anvers, she is fully-loaded with second-hand trucks, cars, buses and construction machinery and she calls at Nouakchott, Dakar, Abidjan, Cotonou, Malabo and Owendo-Libreville in Gabon.

If the investigation -initiated by Panama, the flag State of the Modern Express, with technical assistance from the French body, BEAmer–is successful, it should clarify which was or were the reasons due to which the crew that was in charge of the vessel in the Bay of Biscay hastily abandoned it.

It has been shown that a wreck or a waste weighing 15,000 tons drifting 700 km off the shore could come to the French coast at a velocity of 50 to 100 km per day. Duly noted.


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