Association de citoyens qui défendent l'environnement maritime


PRESS RELEASE MOR GLAZ On the 30th of January 2016

On Tuesday 26 th January 2016 the Ro-ro "MODERN EXPRESS" transmitted a distress alert.

The 22 crew members were evacuated and the ship remained unattended until the arrival of the rescue ship "Abeille Bourbon", so 24 hours after the abandon of the ship.

Given the wind direction, on Tuesday 26th January 2016, if an sea-going tug had been based in the Bay of Biscay as it is requested by MOR GLAZ Association since the 1st September 2011, we would have won precious hours. We note that all "recommendation" of some technocrats and ministerial advisers etc do not work. And we deplore that French means are absent! We are in a race against time because nothing has been decided upstream !!!!

All salvage resources shall be adapted to gigantic ships !!

The race to gigantic ships continues. Countries where these ships are sailing will be obliged “soon in our opinion" to set up more powerful tugs than those existing in Boulogne, Cherbourg, Brest and Toulon.

In 2005, when the tugs ABEILLE BOURBON and ABEILLE LIBERTE were put in place, container-ships could take up 9000 /11000 containers. Ten years later, their capacity has doubled ... And dangers have increased fourfold. The wind resistance of these vessels is dangerous, forbidding some maneuvers ... As well as the proliferation of dangerous products transported on the same vessel.

In 2012: 16.000 TEU, in 2013: 18,000 TEU, in 2015: 19,500 TEU, in 2017: 22,000 TEU. And then after?

Tese giants who are more than 400 m long and more than 54m wide, cannot be rescued by the existing resources in France or elsewhere with winds of over 35 knots and a strong sea.

According to us, the race to gigantic ships is useless, it is dangerous "but" it exists, so the rescue resources need to be strengthened, "appropriate" throughout Europe and the world. Since 2011 there is not anymore a salvage tug in the Bay of Biscay.Yet in this maritime area, during winter time, some ships lost more than 350 containers of various products in a night. Even empty, these containers are very dangerous for the navigation, especially for fishing vessels, small coasters ships, ferries, yachts, and others.

Since September 2011, MOR GLAZ asks for the repositioning of a salvage ship in the Bay of Biscay. The Maritime State Representative, Anne-François de Saint-Salvy, as many others, requested to the General Secretary of Sea, in a letter dated September 14, 2011 rescue resources for monitoring the Bay of Biscay.

The association MOR GLAZ notes that since the salvage ship’s departure in September 2011, written and oral questions follow each other in the Parliament. These questions are asked by Representatives coming from different political parties. Since 2011 the answers are the same, built by advisers who do not know too much and who give approximate solutions, far from the realities and professionalism imposed by the rescue in dangerous areas with extreme weather conditions.


Why this area must be protected:

The maritime traffic in the Gulf of Biscay is increasingly growing. Ships are increasingly gigantic. Passenger ships and ferries are increasingly numerous. The development of Atlantic ports (Nantes-St Nazaire, La Pallice, the Verdon etc ......) must me accompanied by effective rescue resources, operational 24/24 H and 365 days a year, under the authority of the Maritime Representative for Atlantic coast.

Contrary to what is mentioned here and there: "The rescue tug “Abeille Languedoc”: between 2006 and 2011, she has conducted 35 operations either: 17 towing or assistance, 13 escort ships, 5 different operations: containers, driftwood that are very dangerous for any type of navigation. Knowing that merchant ships use (often) heavy fuel oil No. 2 for their propulsion, like the one carried by the Erika and Prestige: all these towing and assistance represent thousands of tons of heavy fuel oil returned safely as well as hazardous materials for humans and the environment. It seems therefore essential that the type of salvage ships detailed above is put in place.

Mrs Ségolène Royal’s commitments (in 2011) remained without result: just a political speech and nothing more. There is a lack of conviction to defend that case that is yet an issue regularly pointed out during debates in the Parliament and other instances.

The Minister of Transport, Frederic CUVILLIER has kicked into touch during his ministerial post (he did not have the political willing to do it). In July 2014, some promises were made to the Association MOR GLAZ, which were immediately made public. Promises have not been met.

The Mayor of La Rochelle considers that this is not under his responsibility and current resources are enough ... From a Representative, considered by the media as a great seafarer, this is pretty shocking. His lack of ambition for maritime security is clearly illustrated here.

And the Prefect of “Poitou-Charentes” was supposed to organize a round table before the end of 2014 ... It takes time!

The Minister of Defense,Jean-Yves Le Drian meanwhile remains silent whereas he was the one who summoned in December 18, 2011 (when he was President of the Brittany Area) the Prime Minister François Fillon to reposition quickly (via AFP) a salvage ship in Lorient after the grounding of the M/V "TK BREMEN".

During the Maritime Economy Congress, held in Nantes in December 2014, Dominique Bussereau, Chairman of the Department Charente Maritime (Department member of the Association MOR GLAZ - I met him in November 2014) claimed a sea-going tug to prevent any maritime accident in the Gulf of Biscay, since he is aware of its dangers.

MOR GLAZ Association continues and will continue to advocate for adequate rescue resources in the area (ships’ gigantism multiplies dangers, risks and especially the invisible pollution with container losses). Salvage Tugs more powerful than Abeilles BOURBON and LIBERTE are required. And this question was tackled by the MOR GLAZ with the Adviser of the Prime Minister during his visit to Ushant the last 10 of July.

In order to tow and ensure good coastal protection, we need powerful tugs, flying French flag, under the first register, owned by a big shipping company. The towing exercise carried out, during a calm weather with the vessel "Marco Polo" off Brittany in March 2013 on the application and under the authority of the Maritime Prefect of the Atlantic, allowed to take stock of the situation, but nothing more.

Two powerful salvage tugs shall be built quickly according to MOR GLAZ. Traction (250-270 tons of traction) and engine power should be favored to speed (useless during bad weather). A tug is primarily a tractor that must be able of operating in all weathers.

MOR GLAZ requests a redeployment and reinforcement of the tugs fleet in France. All merchant ships, particularly the giants should be equipped with a towing system in order to quickly hitch it without taking "useless" risks to rescuers and seafarers of the towed vessel.

MOR GLAZ requests the IMO (International Maritime Organization) and ships’ insurers to impose to shipowners to equip ships with JLMD Ecologic System. This system is already used on board french ships like those of Louis Dreyfus ARMATEURS and CMA CGM.

MOR GLAZ requests also more technical stops and these ones shall be more rigorous.