Illegal cargo onboard stricken Modern Express

The stricken Modern Express car carrier is expected to enter Bilbao port today. The contents inside the listing Cido ship are now at the centre of another controversy.

Eight days ago the crew of the vessel were evacuated in rough seas as the cargo shifted resulting in a 40 degree listing. The ship then drifted towards the French coast with salvors only able to attach a tow line on Monday, averting a possible environmental disaster.

Since then a tug has taken the ship south to Bilbao. However, much further south another side story from the incident is emerging. The vessel was reportedly carrying timber from Gabon to Le Havre when it ran into difficulty. However, it now emerges logs were onboard, not timber as mentioned in the manifest. Logs are prohibited from export from the West African nation. Gabon’s Ministry of Economy has launched an investigation.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. It seems safe to assume that the no export of logs law is designed to keep work in the saw mills of the exporter.
    I doubt that the concern is for the safety/health of the importing nation.

  2. Logs are often controlled for export because certain trees may not be harvested without a specific license or permission. Simple renewable lumber is safe to export, having passed through official channels. Anyone who harvests controlled hardwoods or restricted commodities should be punished, as severely as can be done.

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