The Grimaldi Lines Con-Ro ship Grande America sank in the Bay of Biscay on Tuesday, March 12, less than 48 hours after it caught fire while sailing from Hamburg to Casablanca.
The fire had continued to rage aboard the ship well after the Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll managed to recover all 27 crewmembers out of the water and bring them to safety following an eight-hour rescue operation.
French Navy assets including the frigate Aquitaine were sent to the area to monitor the situation and watch out for any oil leaks from the burning ship.
Efforts to contain the blaze were suspended after firefighting boat crews noted the ship’s increasing tilt towards starboard.
Grande America was still in flames when it capsized and sank at around 15:26 local time at a point 180 nautical miles west of the French coast.
The ship ended up at a water depth of 4,600 metres, making salvage of the wreck impossible.
Aquitaine and the platform supply vessel (PSV) VN Sapeur have remained at the site of the sinking to help ensure safe navigation for other vessels passing through the area.