The Panama registered – now abandoned ship – Modern Express is headed for the French coast, France's Marine Nationale reported. Authorities have been attempting to right the vessel before it runs aground, but have not been successful due to bad weather conditions.
The vessel started keeling on 26 January and the 22 crew members were immediately airlifted by Spanish rescue helicopters. The ship continued to drift through the Bay of Biscay and is nearing the resort town of Arcachon in France. It is predicted to run aground between 1 and 2 February in the Landes administrative department near Arcachon.
Emmanuel de Oliviera, the head of France's Atlantic coast authority told reporters that while efforts are on to right the ship, strong winds and rough seas have deterred all attempts. Final salvage efforts are being attempted and, "As of today the sea is stronger than us. There is still a favourable window tomorrow [1 February] to try and connect a tugboat," he said.
Cido Shipping, the owner of the vessel contracted French emergency tug Abeille Bourbon, the French Navy frigate Primauguet with a Lynx helicopter, and the AHTS Argonaute to help restore the vessel to its upright position.
Modern Express was transporting 3,600 tonnes of wood along with construction machinery from Gabon to France. The carrier holds 300 tonnes of diesel but according to a report by the Maritime Prefect, the fuel is currently secure and there have been no signs of a leak.
Maritime officials believe the vessel may have tilted to one side after cargo stored on it moved due to rough weather conditions.