The salvage team contracted for the recovery of the stricken ro/ro Modern Express has been temporarily removed from the vessel as heavy swells complicated their efforts Friday to establish a tow line.
The French Prefecture Maritime de'l Atlantique reported that the team boarded the ship at 1345 hours, and upon reaching the bow they were able to pass a line to the tug Centaurus. Swells of 12 to 15 feet meant that the two vessels were moving significantly relative to each other, and the motion parted the line.
One salvor reportedly suffered a minor injury during the effort. French authorities did not provide further details.
With nightfall approaching, at 1600 hours the team stopped work on the salvage and were taken from the ship by helicopter.
The vessel is presently 150 nautical miles off La Rochelle, France, drifting to the east at about one knot.
Response assets on scene include the response tug Abeille Bourbon, the frigate Primauguet, the pollution control vessel Arogonaute, and two tugs contracted by SMIT.
Spanish Coast Guard assets rescued the 22-member crew of the listing ro/ro on Tuesday evening and brought them safely ashore.
The Express issued a distress signal when she was 130 nm off Cape Ortegal, Galicia, in the British zone of SAR responsibility for the Bay of Biscay. The evacuation was carried out by Spanish authorities, who provided three helicopters and one patrol aircraft.
The Panama-flagged, 10,000 dwt Modern Express was under way from Gabon to Le Havre with cargo of "3,600 tons of wood in bundles and a dozen pieces of heavy machinery" at the time that she began to list, French authorities said.
The Express is owned by Cido Shipping and operated by European Roro Lines, a specialist in ro/ro cargo to West Africa from Northern Europe.
Latest updates and video of the salvage effort may be found at https://twitter.com/premaratlant?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw.