The Italian master and two officers who were on the Grimaldi Group’s 1998-built Grande Europa conro ship that suffered a major fire 25nm off Palma de Majorca en route from Salerno to Valencia in May have appeared in court in Valencia, Spain for alleged arson.
All three officers strongly deny the accusation of setting off two fires on the ship on 15 May. Bail was set at €9,000 for the master and €5,000 each for the other two officers, one of then a third officer.
The Naples-based Grimaldi Group said the major blaze on the ship was likely to have been caused by batteries in two new cars onboard, fuelling concerns over the risks posed by cargoes of hybrid and electric vehicles. It said preliminary 'investigations suggest that the two fires started from two different new vehicles stowed on board, and then spread to the other nearby units.'
Its statement specified that they were co-operating with the investigations.
In addition to the Grande Europa case, fires on two other Grimaldi vessels in the last eight months – Cruise Ausonia and Grande America – are still under investigation. The Grimaldi Group said it was launching an appeal to 'introduce more stringent controls and regulations on cargo sea transport, not only for rolling units but also for containers.'