Friday, April 18, 2014

Human Error Suspected as Hope Fades in Korean Ferry Sinking

JINDO, South Korea — The captain was among the first to flee. Only a couple of the 44 life rafts aboard were deployed. The hundreds of passengers were instructed over the intercom to “stay inside and wait” as the ship leaned to one side and began to sink, dragging scores of students down with it.
“I repeatedly told people to calm themselves and stay where they were for an hour,” Kang Hae-seong, the communications officer on the South Korean ferry that sank on Wednesday, said from his hospital bed. He added that he could not recall taking part in any evacuation drills for the ship, and that when a real emergency came, “I didn’t have time to look at the manual for evacuation.”
It took two and a half hours for the ferry, the Sewol, to capsize and become submerged in the blue-gray waters off the southwestern tip of South Korea. Yet in that time, only 179 of the 475 people believed to have been on board were rescued. By Thursday evening, the confirmed death toll was 25.

By Friday, the vessel was completely submerged. But rescue divers, after two days of futile attempts, succeeded in swimming into the ship, though it was unclear how far they were able to enter. Rescuers were using high-pressure hoses to pump oxygen inside the ship, in the hope that some of the 271 people still missing, most of them students, might have survived in air pockets inside the overturned vessel.

As those efforts continued, evidence was growing that human error contributed to the accident, one of South Korea’s worst disasters in recent decades.
Kim Su-hyun, a provincial coast guard chief, told reporters on Thursday that the ship’s captain, Lee Jun-seok, stood accused of violating his responsibilities by abandoning the ferry ahead of most of his passengers. Coast guard officials who questioned Mr. Lee on Thursday said they were reviewing possible criminal charges, while the police said they were investigating whether he had escaped aboard one of the few life rafts used.
On Friday, Park Jae-uk, a senior investigator, said that Mr. Lee was not on the bridge at the time of the accident and left control of the ship to his third mate. “We are investigating where exactly he was at the time,” Mr. Park added.
Mr. Lee made a brief appearance before reporters on Thursday. “I can’t lift my face before the passengers and family members of those missing,” he said. But he provided little clarity on what led the 6,825-ton Sewol to lean so far to its side before sinking, and why so many aboard had been unable to escape.
For some maritime experts, the captain’s decision to abandon the ship and the crew’s emergency performance seemed to echo problems in the wreck of the Costa Concordia, an Italian cruise ship that ran aground in 2012, killing 32 people.
James T. Shirley Jr., an accident investigator in Newtown, Pa., said that in the two and a half hours it took the ship to sink, the crew “certainly had enough time to get most of the people off.”

“I don’t understand why the crew would be instructing passengers to stay inside the ship,” Mr. Shirley said. “I would think that if nothing else, they would be getting them outside with life jackets on so if it sank, they could at least get into the cold water with their jackets.”
Capt. William H. Doherty, a maritime safety expert at Nexus Consulting Group who commanded Navy and merchant ships, said there was “clearly a breakdown in safety training” on the South Korean ferry, a failure he said could be attributed to its officers and to Korean regulators.

“When they issued a safety certification for the ship, they had to certify that the crew was trained,” Captain Doherty said, noting the communications officer’s admission that he had not taken part in an evacuation drill. “You have to satisfy yourself that this crew is trained in all emergency situations.”
For the 325 students from Danwon High School who made up the bulk of the passengers, it was a trip they had been eagerly awaiting, a last chance for fun before a grueling year of studying for South Korea’s university entrance exam. Soon after the ferry left the port of Incheon on Tuesday night bound for the resort island of Jeju, they celebrated by launching fireworks from the deck.
According to survivors, the students were having a morning break after breakfast on Wednesday, roaming through the floors and snapping pictures on the deck, when the ship began tilting.

“I don’t remember that there was any safety instruction before we boarded the ship,” said Kim Su-bin, 16, a Danwon student who survived by climbing out of the sinking ship and jumping into the water. “Life jackets were on the fourth floor where the sleeping cabins were, but those who were on the third floor at the time had no life jackets.”
Investigators said the Sewol appeared to have made a sharp turn to the left around the time it began to tilt. It had been sailing slightly off its usual course, they said. It was unclear why such a turn was tried in waters known for their strong currents, or why the turn had caused the ship to lean.
Inside the ferry, chaos unfolded, survivors said, as the walls and floor seemed to exchange positions. Bottles and dishes fell. The ship’s twisting stairways became almost impossible to negotiate. Passengers were tossed to one side. Trays and soup bowls overturned, said Song Ji-cheol, a college student who worked part-time in the cafeteria.
“All of a sudden, we were submerged,” he said. “I tried to hold on to the tables, but they were moving around, too.”
At some point, survivors said, the lights went out.

“When the ship began tilting, there was a thudding noise, and I thought it was the noise made by students bumping into the walls,” Han Hee-min said on Thursday in a hospital in Ansan, the city south of Seoul where Danwon High School is. “I had a life jacket, so I floated. Some friends grabbed my leg, and I don’t know what happened to them.”

The communications officer, Mr. Kang, 32, said that he and another crew member had been forced to make a quick decision. They thought that if passengers fled in a panicked rush, it could make matters worse, he said.
Shin Seong-hee, a Danwon student, was among those who heeded the advice. In a text message she sent to her father, she said the crew had told her that “it was more dangerous to move.”
Her father texted back, “I know the rescuers are coming but why don’t you try to come outside?”
“I can’t because the ship is tilting too much,” she said, in a text displayed by her sister. Ms. Shin has not been heard from since.
Some survivors gave accounts of professionalism and self-sacrifice by crew members. Kim Su-bin, the Danwon student who climbed out and jumped into the water, thanked Park Ji-young, a crew member who was found dead on Wednesday, for calming students and staying behind without a life jacket after helping students escape.
“Bring my child back alive!” some parents yelled on Thursday when President Park Geun-hye visited a gymnasium that local officials had turned into a shelter for grieving families. Ms. Park promised “all available resources” for the rescue efforts, and “a thorough investigation and stern punishment for those responsible.”
An editorial in the country’s leading conservative daily newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, which has been mostly supportive of Ms. Park’s government, denounced it for “floundering.”
“Above all, the people must have felt deeply that South Korea is a country that doesn’t value human lives,” it said. “Hundreds of passengers sank with the ship, but its captain and most of its crew came out alive.”

Fears Rise for Missing in SKorea Ferry Sinking

Fears rose Thursday for the fate of 289 passengers still missing more than 24 hours after their ferry flipped onto its side and filled with water off the southern coast of South Korea.

A coast guard official said the death toll was now confirmed at seven, but that is expected to rise sharply because the missing have now spent more than a day either trapped in the ferry or in the cold seawater.

There were 475 people aboard — many of them high school students on a class trip — and frantic parents have gathered at their school near Seoul and in Mokpo in the south of the country, not far from where the ferry slipped beneath the surface until only the blue-tipped, forward edge of the keel was visible.

Divers, helicopters and boats continued their search Thursday for survivors, but the high number of people unaccounted for — possibly trapped in the ship or floating in the chilly water nearby — raised fears that the death toll could increase drastically.

Coast guard's spokesman Cho Man-yong said Thursday morning that rescuers in a vessel had found another body floating in the sea, raising the confirmed death toll to seven. It was not immediately known whether the body was male or female.

It was still unknown why the ferry sank, but coast guard officials were interviewing the captain and crew. The Sewol, a 146-meter (480-foot) vessel that can hold more than 900 people, set sail Tuesday from Incheon, in northwestern South Korea, on an overnight, 14-hour journey to the tourist island of Jeju.

The ferry was three hours from its destination when it sent a distress call after it began listing to one side, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.

Passenger Kim Seong-mok told broadcaster YTN that after having breakfast, he felt the ferry tilt and then heard it crash into something. He said he was certain that many people were trapped inside the ferry as water rushed in and the severe tilt of the vessel kept them from reaching the exits.

Koo said many people were trapped inside by windows that were too hard to break.

"The rescue wasn't done well. We were wearing life jackets. We had time," Koo, who was on a business trip to Jeju with a co-worker, said from a hospital bed in Mokpo, the nearest major city to the site of the accident, where he was treated for minor injuries. "If people had jumped into the water ... they could have been rescued. But we were told not to go out."

Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member who escaped with about a dozen others, including the captain, told The Associated Press that rescue efforts were hampered by the ferry's severe tilt.

"We couldn't even move one step. The slope was too big," Oh said.

The Sewol's wreckage is in waters a little north of Byeongpung Island, which is not far from the mainland and about 470 kilometers (290 miles) from Seoul.

"We cannot give up," said South Korean President Park Geun-hye, after a briefing in Seoul. "We have to do our best to rescue even one passenger."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. and its 7th Fleet stood ready to assist, including the USS Bonhomme Richard, which was in the region.

The last major ferry disaster in South Korea was in 1993, when 292 people were killed.

TV stations broadcast live pictures Wednesday of the listing Sewol as passengers clambered over the side, jumped into the sea or were hoisted up by helicopters. At least 87 vessels and 18 aircraft swarmed around the stricken ferry.

Bridge Absence

Captain Lee, 69, wasn’t on the bridge at the time of the sinking and he had assigned the third navigation officer to steer the vessel, Park Jae Uck, a prosecutor based in Gwangju, told reporters in Mokpo. “He may have returned to the wheelhouse as the ferry began tilting,” he said.
Investigators are probing whether the ferry turned too quickly or abnormally. They declined to say what announcements were made as the ferry sank, or whether passengers were told to stay in their cabins.

About 10 crew, including the captain, are under investigation over the cause of the ferry’s sinking, Kim Su Hyeon, Commissioner of the Korea Coast Guard’s West Regional Headquarters in Mokpo, said in a statement distributed by the security ministry. The probe will focus on whether the crew made any mistakes, if they broke any rules related to cargo, and if the ship had any faults, according to the statement.

Friday, August 16, 2013

2013. Philippines: Ferry with 700 People on Board Sinks After Collision with Ship

A ferry with nearly 700 people aboard sank near the central Philippine port of Cebu on Friday night after colliding with a cargo vessel, and a survivor said he saw bodies in the sea.
“It seems some were not able to get out. I pity the children. We saw dead bodies on the side, and some being rescued,” he said.
He said the ferry was entering the pier when the cargo vessel, which was on the way out, suddenly collided with the ship. He said he and other passengers jumped in front of the cargo vessel.
“One of the persons who jumped with us hit his head on metal. He is shaking and he is bloodied,” Agudong said.
He said the crew of the ferry distributed life jackets while the ship was slowly sinking.
He said the ferry came from Nasipit in Agusan del Sur province in the southern Philippines on a daylong journey.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

2013 A New York passenger ferry has hit a dock during the Manhattan rush hour.

A New York passenger ferry has hit a dock during the Manhattan rush hour, injuring scores of people and tearing a hole in the vessel's bow.
Eleven people have been seriously injured, the Associated Press reports.
The Seastreak Wall Street ferry hit the mooring as it docked about 08:45 (13:45 GMT) after a trip from New Jersey.
The boat, which was carrying about 340 passengers and five crew members, was able to dock and witnesses say people rushed to disembark.
Of about 70 people hurt, two were in a critical condition, New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told reporters.
'Like a bomb'
She said the boat had struck the dock at about 10-12 knots (11.5mph - 13.8mph; 18.5km/h - 22.2km/h).
AdvertisementThe BBC's Barbara Plett says passengers had no warning ahead of the crash
Passengers who had been standing, waiting to disembark, were hurled to the deck or launched into walls as the Seastreak hit the dock.
"We just tumbled on top of each other," Ellen Foran of Neptune City, New Jersey told the AP news agency. "I got thrown into everybody else. People were hysterical, crying."
The most seriously injured passenger suffered a severe head wound by falling down a stairwell.
The BBC's Barbara Plett says Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan has not closed as a result of the collision, avoiding a major disruption to water traffic.
A woman who witnessed the crash from the dock told CBS News the 140ft (43m) vessel did not appear to have been coming in at high speed, but said "it was a very hard hit".
"It had pulled in - starting to pull in - and what it did was it hit the right side of the boat on the dock hard, like a bomb," Dee Wertz told the network.
In a statement, the ferry company said it would work with investigators to determine the cause of the accident.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those that were injured," the firm said.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has visited the scene of the crash, along with senior police, fire and emergency management officials. Police said the boat's crew passed alcohol breath tests given after the crash.
The cause of the accident was under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The ferry, built in 2003, had recently undergone a major overhaul that gave it new engines and a new propulsion system, but officials said it was too soon to tell whether the upgrades had played any role in the crash.Manhattan, an island, is served by several commuter ferry lines, the largest of which brings passengers from the Staten Island borough.
In 2003, 11 people were killed and dozens injured when a Staten Island ferry boat crashed into a pier on Staten Island, across New York Harbor from Manhattan. Dozens more were injured in a Staten Island ferry crash in 2010.

Source :

2012 Zanzibar ferry capsizes, killing dozens, 140 dead

(CNN) -- Rescuers were scheduled to resume their search Friday morning for survivors of a ferry that sank off the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, killing 60 people and leaving more than 80 people unaccounted for, the Red Cross said.

As night fell Thursday, crews halted their search until the next morning, the Red Cross said.
The vessel with about 290 people aboard -- including 31 children -- capsized near Zanzibar on Wednesday, according to a spokesman for the agency's office in Tanzania.
About 145 people have been found alive, and rescue operations are ongoing, said Raymond Kanyambo, a spokesman for the agency.
Authorities intensified efforts Thursday by using army helicopters, government troops and boats.
Strong winds and rough waves, which officials blame for the capsizing, complicated ongoing rescue efforts, he said.
Ferries in the region often carry passengers not included in the manifest, making it hard to pinpoint the exact number of people aboard.
The ferry was traveling between the Tanzanian commercial capital of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, the Indian Ocean archipelago popular with tourists for its pristine sandy beaches.
Bangladesh ferry death toll rises to more than 100
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania.
The capsizing Wednesday is the latest such disaster in the popular tourist destination of Zanzibar in less than a year.
More than 200 people perished when a crowded ferry traveling between two islands of Zanzibar sank in September. In that incident, the ferry had a capacity of about 600 passengers, but was carrying more than 1,000 people, officials said at the time.
Tanzanian authorities charged five men with negligence in the September capsizing, including the owner of the ferry and the captain.


2012 Ferry Shariatpur-1 capsizes in Bangladesh, 32 + dead

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Rescuers searched frantically for survivors after a packed ferry carrying at least 250 people capsized in southern Bangladesh, killing at least 32 people, police said Tuesday.
The MV Shariatpur-1 sank in the Meghna River after colliding with a cargo ferry early Tuesday while passengers slept, a survivor said.
"We were seven in a cabin in the ferry, and six of my family members are still missing," Mohammad Dulal Dewan told CNN.
"Everything happened before I could understand anything."
The 55-year-old survivor said he "jumped into the river and was rescued by people in another passing ferry."
Dewan and his family were traveling to Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, to see his brother-in-law off to the United States. Shamim Fakir was scheduled to fly on his U.S. trip early Wednesday, Dewan said. He was still missing Tuesday evening.
Mohammad Azizul Alam, the administrative chief of Munshiganj district, said officials had received a list of 61 missing people from families and the death toll might increase.
"We believe many bodies are still trapped inside the sunken ferry, and the rescue operation is still on," Shahabuddin Khan, police chief of Munshiganj, told CNN.
Khan said divers from the Bangladesh navy and the Fire Service and Civil Defence took part in the operation in addition to police and the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.
The water authority's chairman, Khandker Shamsuddoha Khandaker, told reporters the ferry had been traced 70 feet (more than 20 meters) under water.
About 30 people were initially rescued after the ferry collided with the cargo boat on the river in Munshiganj district, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Dhaka. The ferry was traveling to the nation's capital from Shariatpur district.
Ferry accidents are common on Bangladesh's vast river network. Hundreds of people die in such accidents every year as the operators often ignore rules. Nearly 4,000 people are estimated to have lost their lives in ferry accidents since 1977.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

2009, Superferry 9,Phillipines, 5 dead, 60 missing

SuperFerry 9, 5 dead,60 missing 900 people rescued as ferry sinks in southern Philippines

A woman and a girl passenger of the sunken "Superferry 9" arrive at the southern port city of Zamboanga, Philippines. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
MANILA, Philippines - At least five people drowned and 900 terrified passengers, many roused from their sleep, were rescued early Sunday from a ferry that listed then sank in the southern Philippines, officials said. More than 60 people were missing.

Coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said 900 of 968 passengers and crewmen on board the Superferry 9 were transferred to two nearby commercial ships, a navy gunboat and a fishing boat hours after the ferry began to list off Zamboanga del Norte province before dawn. Canadian, Jeff Predchuz, 47, is among the rescued.

A search was under way for more than 60 people who remained missing, Tamayo said, adding that they may have drifted with their life jackets or have been rescued but were not yet listed as survivors.

"We really hope they're just unaccounted for due to the confusion," Tamayo told The Associated Press.

Map - See where the ferry sank

Navy ships were deployed and three military aircraft scoured the seas, Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said. American troops providing counterterrorism training to Philippine soldiers in the region deployed a civilian helicopter and five boats, some carrying paramedics, to help, U.S. Col. William Coultrup said.

Teodoro said two men and a child drowned during the scramble to escape the ship. The bodies of two other passengers were later plucked from the sea by fishermen, the coast guard said, adding that three passengers were injured.

The cause of the listing was not clear. The ferry skipper initially ordered everyone on board to abandon the ship as a precautionary step, said Jess Supan, vice-president of Aboitiz Transport System, which owns the steel-hulled ferry.

There were reports that the ferry listed to the right due to a hole in the hull, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said. As the 7,268-ton ferry tilted, some passengers may have panicked and jumped into the water, the coast guard said.

Passenger Roger Cinciron told DZMM radio by cellphone that he felt the ferry was tilting around midnight but he was assured by a crewman that everything was well. About two hours later, he was roused from sleep by the sound of crashing cargo below his cabin, he said.

"People began to panic because the ship was really tilting," he said as he waited for rescuers to save him and a group of more than 20 other passengers.

The ferry left the southern port city of General Santos on Saturday and was scheduled to arrive in Iloilo city in the central Philippines later Sunday but ran into problems midway and began to list about nine miles (15 kilometres) from the nearest shore, Tamayo said.

There were no signs of possible terrorism, Tamayo said.

Al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants bombed another Superferry in Manila Bay in 2004, setting off an inferno that killed 116 people in Southeast Asia's second-worst terrorist attack.

The weather was generally fair in the Zamboanga peninsula region, about 530 miles (860 kilometres) south of Manila, although a tropical storm was battering the country's mountainous north, the coast guard said.

Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

Last year, a ferry overturned after sailing toward a powerful typhoon in the central Philippines, killing more than 800 people on board.

In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,341 people in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.

Sinking of m/v Bulgaria. 122 dead.

Sinking On 10 July 2011, Bulgaria was traveling in Tatarstan on the Volga River when she was caught in a storm and sank in several minutes at about 13:58 Moscow time (09:58 UTC), several hours after beginning her cruise.

Survivors say that during the cruise, Bulgaria encountered stormy weather, and listed sharply to starboard. This was apparently compounded by the captain trying to turn the boat around, and soon water rushed into the vessel through portholes that had been opened because the ship had no air conditioning. According to a survivor, the sinking came without warning, and the vessel "listed to starboard ... and capsized and sank."The boat sank within minutes, plunging nearly 20 metres (66 ft) to the river bed. The sinking occurred about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from shore, in the Kamsko-Ustyinsky District.

As of 25 July 2011, the officially confirmed death toll is at 122, with all bodies found so far identified.On 11 July 2011, a government official from the Ministry of Emergency Situations said that the likelihood of finding additional survivors was slim, leaving a presumed total of up to 129 dead. Among the dead were believed to be at least 50 children. On 12 July 2011, the divers recovered bodies of Bulgaria's captain Alexander Ostrovsky and his spouse.
Seventy-nine people (56 passengers and 23 crew members) were reported to have survived the sinking. Of those, 76 were rescued by the cruise ship Arabella, a few others were saved by other boats, and one survivor managed to swim to the shore. At the time of the incident, Bulgaria passenger's count is estimated to have been at 201, though she was only rated to carry 120.

Passed ship

According to survivors' accounts, two ships (the oil tanker Volgoneft-104 [other sources claim it could have been the Volgoneft-38 and the freighter Arbat) passed by after the Bulgaria had sunk. The passing ships did not stop to help and the ICRF has launched an official investigation into these claims. In accordance with Russian criminal code, article 270, the captain of a ship that refuses to help in disaster could be sentenced to up to two years of deprivation of freedom. However it may also be that these ships, being heavy freight barges with minimal crews, were not technically capable of stopping while passing or of turning back in acceptable time. The barge owners refused to comment.The technical reasons may not be sufficient to justify the refusal, as the article 270 of the Russian criminal code allows the only reason to refuse help when it could endanger a ship or its crew or passengers. Assistance from the towboat Dunaisky 66 with two barges that appeared later after accident, was refused by Arabella's captain assuming that the towboat would not have provided useful help and would only hinder the rescue. Both Volgoneft-104and Volgoneft-38 are equipped with life boats and while coordinates are not precisely tracked they were approximately in the region of the accident. Investigators did not charge captains of any oil tankers in relation to the Bulgaria disaster as of 15 July 2011; the only captains charged with failure to save are captains of Arbat (Yuri Tuchin) and Dunaisky 66 (Alexander Egorov).These two ships seem also equipped with life boats. On 28 February 2012, Alexander Egorov was found guilty by court. However, the court imposed only a relatively minor penalty of 190,000 RUB (less than 4,900 EUR). Egorov pleaded not guilty claiming that entering the disaster area while towing barges would have hindered the rescue operation. He is considering filing an appeal.


On 11 July, an anonymous source close to the committee investigating the sinking said that the likely cause was portholes that were opened because of the lack of air conditioning on the vessel, which allowed water to enter Bulgaria when the captain attempted to turn the ship during stormy weather.
Evidence suggested that a number of safety violations could have caused or compounded the disaster. According to one survivor, emergency exit doors on the boat had been sealed or locked shut. Investigators also suggested that the boat set sail with a list to the right, possibly due to full sewage or fuel tanks on that side, and with one of its engines not properly functioning. Some survivors told Russian news agencies that they begged the captain to turn round because of the list, but were ignored. There were conflicting reports about whether the boat and the cruise operator were properly licensed for passenger cruises.One of the diesels was not in operation when Bulgaria last set sail, which, according to investigators, is a serious violation of passenger boats regulations. Survivors from the crew claimed that Bulgaria had lost electric power minutes before she sank, which effectively disabled ship controls, and prevented the crew from making a distress call over radio. For some unknown reason the emergency power did not come in. It was not until Arabella picked up first survivors that authorities found out the name of the vessel and the true scale of the disaster.
While the ship was not licensed to carry the number of passengers that were on board, it likely was not technically overloaded as in the past has been tested with as much as 2000 passengers

Russia’s Investigative Committee has found out what may have caused the “Bulgaria” cruise ship to sink, killing 122 people.

The list of possible reasons is topped by engine failure, troubles with its radio warning system, a lack of life-saving equipment and an overload of passengers – 201 people were onboard instead of 156.
The exact cause of the tragedy will be revealed after a full engineering and technical examination is completed. As of now, it is believed that the “Bulgaria” sank because of technical troubles.
“Now the investigators have to find who is to blame for the tragedy and understand which actions of the crew, of the cruise ship’s owners and of the officials responsible for the cruise ship’s check-up caused the sinking,” said the official spokesperson for the committee, Vladimir Markin.
The “Bulgaria” sank during a pleasure cruise on the Volga River. Of 201 people onboard, 122 died when the ship went down in a matter of minutes. There were 28 children, 72 women and 22 men among the victims.
A criminal case was launched against the captains of two freighters that failed to take part in the rescue of people from the “Bulgaria” on June 10, the day she sank.
“Even though both suspects deny any wrongdoing, the body of evidence collected by the investigation, including passenger and crew-member reports and the logs of the vessels ‘Dunaysky 66’ and ‘Arbat,’ confirm their guilt,” stated Markin.
The captains of both ships are suspected of abandoning a ship in distress. Two other people have already been charged with criminal negligence in connection with the incident.
A check-up on cruise ships following the Volga River tragedy found out that 90 percent fail to meet basic safety requirements. The most common violations are missing or faulty life-jackets and no flares in the lifeboats.
After a thorough check-up, 23 vessels were banned from operating as passenger ships, and prosecutors initiated 66 administrative cases against boat owners. More checks will be carried out in other regions.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

2006 Ferry Sea Diamond

Sea Diamond was built as the ferry Birka Princess, for Birka Line, by the Finnish state-owned company Valmet, at their Vuosaari shipyard in Helsinki and delivered in 1986. She sailed on 24-hour booze-cruises between Stockholm and the Åland Islands in Finland. Between 1990 and 2003 she also made longer cruises around the Baltic during the summer season. As built, she had a small car deck, with space for 80 passenger cars. Like most cruise-ferries in the Baltic, she was built to ice class 1A.

Birka Princess as built was 21,484 GT; 460 feet long, with a beam of 81 feet. Twin screw, powered by four Pielstick diesel engines, producing 24,000 bhp, providing a service speed of 18 knots. She had accommodation for 1,394 berthed passengers in one class, with a crew of 150.

In 1999 she was extensively refitted at Lloyd Werft in Germany, when the fore superstructure was extended and streamlined and 62 new passenger cabins were added, including a new deck of cabins above the bridge. In October 2004, when the new Birka Paradise was delivered, the Birka Princess started making two-night cruises from Stockholm to Turku, Helsinki and Tallinn, as well a weekly 24-hour cruise from Stockholm to Mariehamn. The new itineraries proved largely unsuccessful and on 2 January 2006, the ship was laid up in Mariehamn and offered for sale.

In February 2006 she was sold to the Cyprus-based Louis Cruise Lines. As built, the ship only had an indoor pool, in the sauna section on deck 2 in the bow of the ship. A new outdoor swimming pool was installed and the sundeck area increased, at Turku Repair Yard, Naantali. The heavily modified ship re-entered service in the Mediterranean as Sea Diamond.
On April 5, 2007, at around 16:00 EEST the ship ran aground, on a well-marked volcanic reef east of Nea Kamei, within the caldera of the Greek island of Santorin, began taking on water, and listed up to 12 degrees to starboard before her watertight doors were reportedly closed (a report which was later refuted when the wreck was examined).The 1,195 passengers, mostly Americans and 60 Canadians, were initially all reported to be safely evacuated in three and a half hours, with four injuries. Some passengers were evacuated from the car ramp, through the former car deck onto boats, but some passengers had to climb down rope ladders from the higher decks. Later, it was reported that two French passengers, occupying a cabin on the lowest passenger deck were missing.

The ship was towed off the rocks, and an unsuccessful attempt made to stabilize her list. The large amount of water taken on board led to the ship sinking shortly before 19:00 on April 6, 2007, only a few hundred metres from the shore. Video footage shows that, toward the end, the ship capsized before settling stern first onto the sea floor. It was later reported that the tip of the bulbous bow was only 62 metres below sea level, but the stern was in water up to 180 metres deep. It is feared that the wreck would soon slide deeper and sink into the submerged caldera of the volcanic island. It has been speculated that the deep, almost vertical shore of the bathtub-like caldera made it impossible to beach the ship and save her from becoming a total loss.

On April 7, Greek authorities announced that they were charging the captain and five other officers with negligence. State television reported they were charged with causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment. Additional charges could be made, depending on the fate of the two missing passengers. All six were released until further notice, but if convicted they could face a five-year prison sentence.

Investigations carried out by the defence team for the master of the vessel and Louis Cruise Lines, included a new hydrographic survey of the area of the accident in Santorini. This survey discovered discrepancies between the actual mapping of the sea area and the official charts used by the Sea Diamond (and all other vessels) at the time of the accident. The detailed survey revealed that the reef, which the Sea Diamond struck, is in fact lying at 131 meters from shore and not at a distance of 57 meters, as is incorrectly marked on the Greek charts. The official chart also shows the depth of the water at the area of impact varying from 18-22 meters, whilst the recent survey shows that it is only 5 meters. Nevertheless the first official enquiry blamed the Sea Diamond’s captain for the loss, by taking a course much nearer the shore than the other cruise vessels that call at Santorini.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Maritime Disasters Lists. Link, press here.

Read about most remarkable maritime tragedies in a maritime history. link to

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009,Ferry Baleno 9, Phillipines, 60 dead

The ferry now lies at the bottom of the ocean, 350 meters (1,148 feet) below the surface, beyond the reach of Coast Guard divers.

Senate told captain not certified!

MANILA, Philippines—The death toll from the sinking of the MV Baleno 9 on Dec. 26 off Verde Island could be much higher than first believed. Dozens of passengers reportedly had been left off the official manifest, according to the Coast Guard.

A total of 132 passengers supposedly boarded the ferry that sank off the Batangas island 37 minutes into its voyage, said Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee that conducted a hearing on the sea tragedy Tuesday.

Of the 132 passengers and crew aboard the roll-on, roll-off vessel, six died and 72 survived, Gordon said.

Fifty-four are missing based on the manifest and as reported by relatives.

The Senate blue ribbon committee also learned that the skipper of the Baleno 9 was not a certified ship captain but merely a “major patron.”

Capt. Jimmy Andal, who was earlier reported to have survived the sinking, is now listed as among the missing persons.

The committee also found that the ferry was designed to only ply inland waters and not the open sea. The ship sank in “open waters” between Batangas and Mindoro, maritime officials said at the committee hearing Tuesday.

Coast Guard Commandant Wilfredo Tamayo said Andal was not “a certified master mariner as he was only a major patron.”

A major patron is a ship officer “not schooled” but has had long maritime experience, according to Tamayo.

Red Cross monitoring

Gordon said he based the 132-figure on the monitoring that he and a Philippine National Red Cross team undertook at the ports of the cities of Batangas and Calapan as the survivors and the dead arrived there on Sunday.

The Baleno 9 sank at a little past 10 p.m. on its way to Batangas City from Calapan, Oriental Mindoro.

The ferry now lies at the bottom of the ocean, 350 meters (1,148 feet) below the surface, beyond the reach of Coast Guard divers.

The sinking of the Baleno 9 was the second sea tragedy in less than three days. On Christmas Eve, the wooden-hulled MV Catalyn B sank 3 nautical miles from Limbones Island at the mouth of Manila Bay after it smashed into a steel-hulled fishing boat.

Four bodies were recovered on the day of the sinking and 24 were reported missing. On Monday, a deep-sea diver saw at least 12 bodies inside the wreckage of the ferry. They have yet to be retrieved.


Gordon sought an explanation of the discrepancy in the figures of the Red Cross and the Coast Guard, which reported that the Baleno 9 had 75 passengers.

The Coast Guard had relied on the figures of an initial manifest and a supplemental manifest—something that a retired captain at the hearing said was “fraudulent.”

He and other officials said ships were required to submit manifests before departure and not after leaving port.

Tamayo told reporters that the Coast Guard had counted 123 people who boarded the ferry. He attributed the bigger number of passengers to “last-minute riders.”

“The latest report we got is there were 123 passengers—73 survivors, six casualties and 44 missing,” Tamayo said.

Gordon got irked when he confronted the Coast Guard with the two passenger manifests of the Baleno 9. He said that when he got to the Batangas port at 2 a.m. on Sunday, he learned from Coast Guard officials that there were 20 passengers on the ship.

An hour later a “supplemental manifest” was produced, showing there were 55 more passengers.

Asked to explain, Lt. Algiers Ricafrente, station commander of the Coast Guard in Calapan, said he got a copy of the supplemental manifest at 4 a.m. after the ship had already sunk.

The second manifest did not sit well with Capt. Robert Garcia, who represented Transportation Undersecretary Thompson Lantion at the hearing.

Fraudulent practice

Garcia said this was a “fraudulent practice” because the ship captain was supposed to submit the manifest under “maritime oath.”

The rules require that ships submit a passenger manifest before departure, said Elena Bautista, administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

This prompted Gordon to say that the second manifest apparently was meant to “clean up” things. The senator asked the Coast Guard to investigate the matter as it involved some sort of “falsification.”

Late buses

Ship owners tend to submit the manifest late because some buses come in late and plead that they be accommodated, according to Tamayo.

He underscored the need for a “cut-off time” for buses and passengers to board a ship.

The Baleno 9 left the Calapan port at 9:18 p.m. on Sunday and sank at 10:07 p.m., according to Tamayo.

Worldwide practice

Gordon questioned the competence of the ship’s captain.

“Did we put the lives of people [in the hands of] someone who was not a certified master mariner?” Gordon asked maritime officials.

Bautista said a major patron was allowed to man a 119-ton vessel such as the Baleno 9.

“It’s based on the gross tons of a ship and this is a worldwide practice,” Bautista said referring to the criteria by which a major patron could be allowed to man ships.

Capt. Nelson Ramirez of the United Filipino Seafarers backed Bautista, saying this had become the practice.

It was also learned that the Baleno 9 came from Japan but that it should only be operated in inland waters, prompting Gordon to say that he would “not allow my children to board vessels” of this type.

Bautista said almost all of the second-hand passenger ships or roll-on, roll-off vessels in the country came from Japan.

While the vessels are operational in inland waters, they are certified by authorities for sea voyage, said the Marina administrator.

Bautista said the proposed Maritime Act, which her office wants immediately passed by Congress, will seek to help companies build ships and design them in accordance with the country’s requirements and “with low interest financing by the government.”

Sunday, September 6, 2009

2009 SuperFerry 9, Phillipines, 10 dead

10 dead,900 people rescued as ferry sinks in southern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - A ferry carrying nearly 1,000 passengers sank in the southern Philippines early Sunday, leaving ten dead and more than 30 missing.

The Superferry 9 began to list before dawn about nine miles (15 kilometres) off Zamboanga del Norte province, rousing terrified passengers from their sleep and sending many jumping into the water, coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said.

Rescuers transferred 900 of 968 passengers and crewmen to two nearby commercial ships, a navy gunboat and a fishing boat, he said. Among them was Jeff Predchuz, 47, of Canada. A search was under way for 33 people who remained missing, Tamayo said.

Passenger Roger Cinciron told DZMM radio he felt the ferry tilting at about midnight but was assured by a crewman that everything was well. About two hours later, he was roused from sleep by the sound of crashing cargo below his cabin, he said.

"People began to panic because the ship was really tilting," he said as he waited for rescuers to save him and a group of more than 20 other passengers.

Reymark Belgira, another passenger, said many panicked as the huge ferry turned. He said he saw parents tossing children to people on life rafts below, but he could not immediately jump himself.

"I held on to the ferry for hours until day break. I couldn't jump into the water in the dark," he said.

Tilting at around 45 degrees from 3 a.m. Sunday, the ferry was gobbled up by the sea some eight hours later, according to the survivors’ account.

Survivors recounted that when they started the voyage, they felt “something wrong” with the vessel.

Luigi Domingo, a resident of General Santos City, said he and his fellow passengers on the economy deck noticed that the vessel was largely inclining to the right as it sailed on.
Rattling sounds
The marshal from the Maritime Police said there was still more cargo space available when the SuperFerry 9 left General Santos City.

Past 2 a.m. Sunday, Elsa Monsali said she was awakened by loud, rattling sounds below, referring to the cargo section. It was at this time that she said the ship experienced intense rocking.

Then suddenly, she felt the ship had tilted sharply.

Ganuhay said he was jolted awake when he was thrown down from his upper bunk in the tourist accommodation.

As he rushed out, he saw water already flowing in.

To help out passengers get to the left side of the vessel, the ship’s crew used ropes and also distributed life jackets to passengers.

The deck’s doorway was jammed with people also wanting to escape.

Domingo said he texted his mother in General Santos City to “pray for me.” He told her the ship “would probably go down in the water.”

He said that when his mother called him around 4 a.m., he was already positioned at the railing and hearing orders from sea marshals for people to get ready to abandon the ship “per advice of the captain.”

Survivors said they saw people jumping into the waters while they screamed.

Domingo, who was among the first to jump, said that not many followed “probably because they were fearful about the cold and darkness below.”

This might explain why several life rafts drifted away empty. Some people “floated with the currents” with only their life jackets

Navy ships were deployed and three military aircraft scoured the seas, Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said. American troops providing counterterrorism training to Philippine soldiers in the region deployed a civilian helicopter and five boats, some carrying paramedics, to help, U.S. Col. William Coultrup said.

Teodoro said two men and a child drowned during the scramble to escape the ship. The bodies of two other passengers were later plucked from the sea by fishermen, the coast guard said, adding three people were injured.
Chelona Pabit, from Agusan, said that as they left port on Saturday morning, the boat began to tilt.

“I noticed when the boat was slowly turning around away from the wharf, it tilted a bit. When the boat leaned to the other end, I heard a strong sound coming from downstairs. Everyone ignored the sound, but we all noticed the boat was tilting,” Pabit said.

For more than 12 hours, the “tilted” ship sailed, Pabit said.

At around 11 p.m., Pabit saw crewmen running down to where the cargoes were located.

“Again I heard another strong sound and I guess a kind of (container) van fell off. I asked the crew what was wrong and they told me there was nothing to worry about as it was just strong waves and strong winds,” Pabit said.

The cause of the listing was not clear. The ferry skipper initially ordered everyone on board to abandon ship as a precautionary step, said Jess Supan, vice-president of Aboitiz Transport System, which owns the steel-hulled ferry.

There were reports the 7,268-ton vessel listed to the right because of a hole in the hull, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.

Aerial photos from the navy showed survivors holding on to anything as the ferry tilted. Others climbed down a ladder on the side as a lone orange life raft waited below.

The ferry left the southern port city of General Santos on Saturday and was scheduled to arrive in Iloilo city in the central Philippines later Sunday but ran into problems midway.

There were no signs of possible terrorism.

Al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants bombed another Superferry in Manila Bay in 2004, setting off an inferno that killed 116 people in Southeast Asia's second-worst terrorist attack.

The weather was generally fair in the Zamboanga peninsula region, about 530 miles (860 kilometres) south of Manila, although a tropical storm was battering the country's mountainous north, the coast guard said.

Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

Last year, a ferry overturned after sailing toward a powerful typhoon in the central Philippines, killing more than 800 people on board.

In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,341 people in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ferry Queen of Victoria, 3 dead

m/s Queen of Victoria On August 2, 1970 the Soviet freighter Sergey Yesenin collided with the Queen of Victoria in Active Pass, slicing through the middle of the ferry, days after her return to service following stretching. Three people were killed and damage was estimated at over $1 million (1970) dollars. The Soviet ship was not supposed to be in Active Pass, and as such, the Soviet government was forced to compensate BC Ferries. Years later, while in Active Pass and within metres of the site of the 1970 collision, the Queen of Victoria was disabled by a fire in the engine room.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ferry Scandinavian Star, 158 dead

M/S Massalia, later known as M/S Scandinavian Star and M/S Regal Voyager was a car and passenger ferry built in France in 1971. The ship caught fire in 1990, killing 158 people.

M/S Massalia was built by Dubegion-Normandie S.A. in 1971 and delivered to Compagnie de Paqueboats who put her on the route Marseille - Málaga - Casablanca and also cruises in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1984 she was owned by a number of companies and named Stena Baltica, Island Fiesta and finally Scandinavian Star, a name given to her by Scandinavian World Cruises who chartered the ship and put her on cruises between Tampa, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico.

Scandinavian Star Fire
In 1990 she was sold to Vognmandsruten and put on DA-NO Linjen's route between Oslo, Norway and Frederikshavn, Denmark. As the ship had changed from a casino ship to a passenger ferry, a new crew needed to be trained in just 10 days (whereas 5-6 weeks is the normal time to train a crew for a ship this size). Many of the Filipino crew could speak neither Norwegian or English.
During the night of April 7, 1990, at about 2 a.m. local time, two fires broke out on deck 3 in the passenger section of the ship. The subsequent investigation into the disaster discovered that the second fire was deliberately set (the first fire started about 15 minutes earlier and may have been deliberate as well). Though the bulkheads were made of asbestos, the melamine resin laminate used as a decorative covering was extremely flammable and fed the fire, allowing it to spread throughout deck 3. These laminates also produced hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide when burned, which contributed to many of the deaths on board. As deck 3 also contained a car storage area there were large fans that were used to remove exhaust fumes. These fans sucked up the smoke and rapidly spread it throughout decks 4 and 5 of the ship.
When the captain learned of the fire, he attempted to close the fire doors on deck 3 to prevent the fire from spreading. The fire doors did not close automatically, and needed to be closed manually by pressing the button near the doors. As the doors were open, the fire was able to travel along the length of the ship. Later the captain ordered his crew to turn off the air conditioning system as the captain imagined it was feeding air to the fire. Once the ventilation system was shut off smoke was able to enter cabins and suffocate trapped passengers. The captain ordered the alarms to be activated, told everyone to abandon ship, and sent out a mayday request. Most people could not hear the alarms over the general noise and confusion on the ship, and many did not wake up. The captain and crew ultimately abandoned ship before all the passengers had been evacuated, leaving many still on board the burning ship even after it was towed to harbour (allegedly the captain and crew were unaware how many passengers had escaped).

Many passengers had difficulty escaping from the fire for several reasons: 1) Many people did not hear the alarms, therefore they did not wake up, 2) They could not find their way out because the thick smoke made it nearly impossible to find the nearest escape routes, 3) The smoke contained poisonous hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide fumes, causing unconsciousness and quick death, and 4) The many Filipinos in the crew did not speak or understand Norwegian or English, were unfamiliar with the ship, and had never practiced a fire drill, so they could not communicate with each other or the passengers and did not know how to respond to the fire.
The ship was towed to Lysekil in Sweden where the fire department managed to put out the fire in 10 hours. As a result of the fire 158 people died (approximately one third of the people on board); another victim died two weeks later from his injuries. One of the women who died was 6 months pregnant. The majority (136) of those killed were Norwegian.
The Scandinavian Star had another fire prior to 1990. On March 15, 1988 while sailing for SeaEscape on a Caribbean cruise, a fire started in the engine room when she was about 50 nautical miles (90 km) northeast of Cancun, Mexico. The ship was carrying 439 passengers and 268 crew members. The ship lost power and her fire fighting oxygen system malfunctioned (it would have let the fire fighters breathe while fighting the fire). The inability of the crew members to communicate with each other and with passengers was a serious concern and created confusion during the fire fighting and evacuation activities.

The burnt ship lay in Copenhagen for a few months until she was towed to Southampton and renamed Candi. In February 1994 she was sold on auction to International Shipping Partners. She was renamed Regal Voyager, sent to Italy for rebuilding and later chartered to Comarit Ferries and put on the route between Tangier and Port Vendres.
In 1997 she was registered for St. Thomas Cruises and put on a route between Port Isabel and Puerto Cortés for Isabel Cortes Ferry Service. Chartered to Ferries del Caribe in 1999 and put on the route Santo Domingo - San Juan.
The ship was laid up in South Carolina in 2003, then sold to Indian shipbreakers in 2004 and renamed to Regal V. She arrived at Alang on May 14, 2004 and the work to get her broken up started five days later.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fred Fry International: Maritime Monday 67

Fred Fry International: Maritime Monday 67

The free surface effect

If a ship floods, the loss of stability is due to the free surface effect, as the water accumulating in the hull will be in the bilges, lowering the centre of gravity and actually increasing the metacentric height. This additional mass will however reduce freeboard (distance from water to the deck) and the ship's angle of down flooding (minimum angle of heel at which water will be able to flow into the hull). The range of positive stability will be reduced to the angle of down flooding resulting in a reduced righting lever. When the vessel is inclined, the fluid in the bilge will move to the lower side, shifting its center of gravity toward the list, further extending the heeling force. This is known as the free surface effect

Flooding, liquid cargo leakage, or unintended water (from precipitation or waves) in any compartments or on any decks of watercraft, and the resulting free surface effect are often a contributing cause of accidents, capsizes and casualties e.g. the loss of TEV Wahine (Wellington, New Zealand, April 1968), the MS Herald of Free Enterprise (Zeebrugge, Belgium, March 1987), and MS Estonia (Baltic Sea, September 1994).

The free surface effect is one of several mechanisms where a craft can become unstable and roll-over (capsize). It refers to the tendency of liquids — and of aggregates of small solid objects, like seeds, gravel, or crushed ore which can act as liquids — to move in response to changes in the attitude of a craft's cargo holds, decks, or liquid tanks in reaction to operator-induced motions (or sea states caused by waves & wind acting upon the craft).

The free surface effect can become a problem in a craft with large partially-full bulk cargo compartments, fuel or water tanks, especially if they are located spanning its fore to aft centerline. If a compartment or tank is either empty or full, there is no change in the loading of the mass, or the craft's center of mass as it rolls from side to side (in strong winds, heavy seas, or on sharp motions or turns). If the tank is only half-full, however, the liquid in the tank will respond to the craft's heave, pitch, roll, surge, sway or yaw. For example, as the craft rolls to the left (port), a liquid will move so that much of it is now on the left (port) side of a tank, and this will move the craft's center of mass and center of moment towards the left (port). This has the effect of slowing the craft's return to vertical.

The free surface effect becomes worse if the craft then rolls through the vertical towards the right (starboard). It takes time for the liquid in the tank to respond and move towards the right (starboard) side of the tank. After the craft rolls through the vertical towards right (starboard), most of the liquid moving in the craft's tank then slams into the right (starboard) side of the tank, often with the effect of causing the craft to heel further over, as the liquid mass hits the bulkheads of the tank. In turbulent winds, heavy sea states, or on rough roads, this can become a positive feedback loop, causing each roll to become more and more extreme, until the craft rolls-over (capsizes).

The higher up these fluid motions occur, especially above either the craft's center of moment (buoyancy) or center of mass, the more pronounced the instabilities.

To mitigate this hazard, cargo vessels use multiple smaller bulk compartments or liquid tanks, instead of fewer larger ones, and possibly baffling within bulk compartments or liquid tanks to minimize the free surface effects on the craft as a whole. Keeping individual bulk compartments or liquid tanks either relatively empty or full is another way to minimize the effect and its attendant problems.

Free surface effect can affect any kind of craft: ranging from watercraft (where it is most common) to bulk cargo or liquid tanker semi-trailers and trucks (causing either jackknifing or roll-overs), or aircraft (especially fire-fighting water-drop and refueling tankers where baffles mitigate but do not eliminate the effects).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

1954 Ferry Toya Maru

The Toya Maru (洞爺丸, Tōyamaru?) was a Japanese freightliner constructed by the Japanese National Railways which sank during a typhoon in the Tsugaru Strait between the Japanese islands of Hokkaidō and Honshū on September 26, 1954. It is said that 1153 people (Japanese National Railways announcement in September 1955) aboard were killed in the accident, however the exact number of fatalities remains unknown because there were victims who managed to ride the ship and those who forcedly cancelled their rides just before the incident.

The Toya Maru was launched on November 21, 1947. It was 118.7 meters (approximately 130 yards) long and 15.85 meters (60 ft) at its beam and it had a Gross Register Tonnage of 3,898 tons. It could accommodate 1,128 passengers and was operated by 120 crew. She covered the distance from Aomori to Hakodate in 4 hours and 30 minutes.

As early as 1950, it was fitted with Radar equipment, becoming one of the first Japanese sea liners to do so. It was used by the Emperor the month before her demise. It was also famous as the flag ship of the Tsugaru Strait.

The following refers to what happened on September 26, 1954 to the Toya Maru.

Typhoon No.15, Marie, which had blown through Honshū, was in the Sea of Japan at 12:00 hours on September 26, 1954, proceeding Northeast at a speed of more than 100 kilometers an hour. It was predicted to reach the Tsugaru Strait at around 17:00 hours.

At 11:00 hours, the Toya Maru arrived at Hakodate after its first journey that day from Aomori. She was originally scheduled to return at 14:40 hours, to arrive at Aomori just before Typhoon Mary. However, due to the expected storm, another ferry the Dai 11 Seikan Maru, a somewhat poorer quality vessel, could not depart on its scheduled journey to Hakodate. Therefore, passengers and vehicles were transferred to the Toya Maru delaying departure.

The captain of the Toya Maru decided to cancel its journey at 15:10 hours.

At 17:00 hours, following heavy rainfall in Hakodate, the weather cleared up and the outlook improved. The captain presuming that the Typhoon had now passed as predicted decided to proceed with the journey for Aomori. However, by this time the Typhoon had slowed and was predicted to stay over the strait for an entire day.

Strangely, the typhoon was gaining strength on Japan Sea. The Typhoon is considered to have already become an extratropical cyclone when it reached Japan, in recent years.

At 18:39 the Toya Maru departed from Hakodate with approximately 1,300 passengers aboard. Shortly thereafter the wind picked up coming from a SSE direction.

At 19:01, the Toya Maru lowered its anchor at the very side of Hakodate Port to wait for the weather to clear up again. However, due to the high winds, the anchor did not hold and the Toya Maru was cast adrift. Water entered to the engine room due to poor design of the vehicle decks, causing its steam engine to stop and the Toya Maru to become uncontrollable. The captain decided to beach the sea liner onto Nanae Beach, in the outskirts of Hakodate City.

At 22:26 hours, the Toya Maru beached and an SOS call was made. However the waves were so strong that the sea liner could no longer remain upright and at around 22:43 hours, the Toya Maru capsized and sank at sea several hundred meters off the shore of Hakodate. Of the 1,309 on board only 150 people survived, while 1,159 (1,041 passengers, 73 crew and 41 others) died.

Four other ferries sank in the same typhoon with a total loss of life of 1,430.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2008 Ferry Princess of Stars

MV Princess of the Stars (sometimes mistakenly referred to as Princess of Stars)was a ferry owned by Filipino shipping company Sulpicio Lines that capsized off the coast of San Fernando, Romblon at the height of Typhoon Fengshen on June 21, 2008. (Fengshen passed directly over Romblon as a Category 2 storm.

The MV Princess of the Stars, flagship of the Sulpicio Lines fleet, left the port of Manila on June 20, 2008 on its way to Cebu City. The number of passengers is variously reported between 700 and 800.The ferry sent a distress signal at midday on June 21 when its engines allegedly stalled in rough seas near Sibuyan Island. San Fernando mayor Nanette Tansingco sent a speedboat and confirmed that the ferry had a hole in the hull, was partially submerged and that several bodies had been found nearby. Later reports revealed that the hole in the hull was actually the ship's bow thruster.

Location of the storm and the Princess of the Stars when the ship lost radio contact at 11 am June 21, 2008.As of June 23, four bodies were recovered by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy.According to the Coast Guard, the ferry's manifest recorded 702 passengers including 50 children as well as 100 crew. The civil defense office said the ship carried 626 passengers and 121 crew members. Three Navy vessels were dispatched but one had to abort its mission due to "gigantic waves, pounding rain, and gusty winds," said Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, spokesman of the Philippine Navy.

A rescue ship reached the MV Princess of the Stars, more than 24 hours after it lost radio contact at 12:30 PST (04:30 GMT) on Saturday.Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Senior Grade Arman Balilo, however, lamented: "They haven't seen anyone. They're scouring the area. They're studying the direction of the waves to determine where survivors may have drifted."

Xinhua News Agency reported that 4 survivors witnessed "that the captain of the ship ordered the abandoning of the ship at noon Saturday, but many passengers did not even wear life vests when the ship capsized." Four survivors told GMA News that "the ship did not malfunction, but only slowed down its speed as it encountered big waves off the coast of Romblon." One saw many people jump, but "the waves were so big and the rains so strong that few of them could have possibly survived; the crew were so busy saving themselves that they did not care to help the passengers to wear safety vests, and that some of the passengers passed out while children and the elderly failed to wear life vests because they could no longer move when the ship was turning upside down."

Tansingco confirmed that 4 aboard died and hundreds of passengers were still missing. Dozens of people trooped to the offices of owner Sulpicio Lines in Cebu and Manila North Harbor. The victims' families accused Sulpicio Lines and the Philippine Coast Guard of allowing the ship to set sail despite the bad weather. They further blamed Sulpicio for not personally informing them about the tragedy, the details of the accident, and the condition of the ship plus its passengers. Sulpicio Lines's counsel stated that "the ship never received advice from Coast Guard, while Metro Manila was still under public storm signal No. 1 when the ship left the port." Furthermore, BBC quoted President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as saying, "Why did you allow it to sail and why was there no ample warning? I want answers."

Sulpicio admitted that 860 were on board as the ferry capsized: "There were 751 manifested passengers and 111 crew members on board the capsized vessel." The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) suspended all sea travel operations of the Sulpicio. Sulpicio lines released the names of 32 survivors with the complete passenger manifest and crew list uploaded on their website.

A week after the ferry disaster, more than 100 passengers have been confirmed dead, with 500 still missing. The ship is also carrying the pesticide, endosulfan. Some 60+ passengers were found within the first week.
Survivors and recovered bodies
Meanwhile, Claveria, Masbate Mayor Eduardo Andueza reported 350 corpses recovered while 40 people were rescued off the coast of Burias Island, Masbate on Monday. The bodies however could not have only come from the MV Princess of the Stars but also from other vessels that capsized. Some of the 40 survivors said they came from cargo vessel MV Lake Paway, which departed from Mindanao but later sank at sea.

Twenty five survivors from the ferry were transported from Quezon province to the headquarters of the Philippine National Red Cross in Intramuros, Manila. Senator and Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon stated that the survivors were given food, clothing and medical assistance. A Red Cross official also reported that some went home to their families in Manila.

The Philippine Coast Guard on June 24, 2008 reported that it accounted for only 115 (48 survivors confirmed, 67 others confirmed dead, 747 missing) of the 862 passengers and crew of the MV Princess of the Stars. Divers, however said that 15 bodies were found inside the ship's dining area and 2 others in the bridge.

Philippines Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo said the ship's interior was too dark: "Most of the bodies were floating inside. They were trapped when the seven-story ship suddenly tilted and capsized. The reports we're getting are that many bodies have been found."

Navy divers and rescuers found bodies, wearing life jackets, trapped in air pockets, but no survivors inside the wreck when they entered the upturned hulk of the ferry. The corpses turned white, floating head up inside the mass grave below the waves. A helicopter from U.S. military ship, the USNS Stockham, found 12 corpses floating near Masbate island, but it was not clear if they were from the Princess of the Stars. Sulpicio lines said "it would pay families of the dead 200,000 pesos ($4,500) each and also give survivors financial assistance." VP Noli de Castro presided over the first meeting of the newly created "Task Force Princess Stars."

On June 27, 2008 recovery efforts were ceased due to the discovery that 10,000 kilos of the dangerous pesticide endosulfan were on board. The government is considering filing charges as it is illegal to transport dangerous goods on passenger vessels in the Philippines.

BMI final report
The 5-member Philippines Board of Marine Inquiry, in its 65-page report dated August 25, 2008 (submitted to the Maritime Industry Authority or Marina), found Sulpicio Lines and its captain liable for the MV Princess of the Stars June 21 maritime tragedy. The BMI recommended that Marina “consider the suspension of the Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) of Sulpicio Lines in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations (and its criminal liability for the sinking." The final report blamed human error, and ruled that the ship's missing and presumed dead captain, Florencio Marimon, "miscalculated" the risk of continuing the trip to Cebu while the storm raged: "There was a failure of the master to exercise extraordinary diligence and good seamanship thereby committing an error of judgment.The immediate cause of the capsizing of MV Princess of the Stars was the failure of the Master to exercise extraordinary diligence and good seamanship thereby committing an error of judgment that brought MV Princess of the Stars in harm's way into the eye of Typhoon Fengshen (Frank). It is found negligent for its failure to exercise its duty in ensuring that they transport passengers and cargo safely to (their) destination.”

Sulpicio said 52 survived the tragedy and 312 bodies were recovered of 825 passengers listed. The rest were declared missing and presumed dead. Sulpicio may appeal within 30 days, the Board's recommendation to the Maritime Industry Authority (Philippines) and the Department of Transportation. Meanwhile, cargoes of 5 toxic pesticides and other poisonous substances are still on board the ferry and will be refloated on September.Sulpicio Lines, the 2nd largest cargo carrier in the Philippines, accounts for 40% of all cargo movement across the country.

Raising of the stars

The Philippine government and the Sulpicio Lines have decided to 'refloat' the sunken MV Princess of the Stars. The say, this would help in retrieving the hundreds of bodies still trapped inside the vessel, as well as easing the retrieval of the toxic cargo inside the ship. Vice President Noli De Castro says, this would probably take a month before the ship is refloated.

This seems an amazing, yet dangerous task. Amazing, because it's probably one of the first in the world for a doomed passenger ship to be refloated again. It would take really big vessels and equipment for this to happen. But there are also risks since no one knows the exact spot where the toxic endosulfan is located.

As of press time, more than 700 passengers and crew are still unaccounted for.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ferry The Salem Express

Navales et Industrielles de la Mediterranee in La Seyne, France, in 1965. The ship was sailed under the name FRED SCAMARONI , and since 1969 she had been operating for the company Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. That company assigned her to the company Compagnie Générale Transméditerranéenne, which conveyed her to the Société Nationale Maritime Corse-Méditerranée in 1976.

In 1980, she was sold to the Ole Lauritzen and renamed the NUITS SAINT GEORGE, only for being sold just ten months later to the Egyptian company Lord Maritime Enterprise and given the name of LORD SINAI. She provided the transport between the Suez and Akaba. In 1984, she was renamed the AL TAHRA, and subsequently, in 1988, sold to the Samatour Shipping Company, which renamed her the SALEM EXPRESS. It was this company she was providing the ferry service between the harbour of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia as long as December 1991 for, when she sank near the Egyptian port of Safaga. As for the number of casualties, the Salem Express ferry sinking belongs to the greatest maritime disasters of recent times.

Technical parameters of the ship:
Length: 4 m
Width: 17.8 m
Draught: 4.9m
Displacement: 4771 tons
Engines: 4 eight-cylinder diesel engines
Output: 11.100 KW
Speed: 19.5 knots

In December 1991, the Salem Express left the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah for her last voyage. Besides the load of several cars, hundreds of passengers returning from the holy city of Mecca were on her board. Her captain was Hassan Moro, who was in command of the ferry since 1988, and was one of the most experienced captains. Few people knew the route between Jeddah and Safaga as well as him. Before his moving to Safaga to work for the Samatour Shipping Company, he had also taught at the Egyptian Naval Academy. Based on his knowledge, he was in the habit of approaching the Safaga port by taking the south course between the mainland and the Hyndman reefs, which was a non-standard way. The route to the Safaga port has been designated with taking the so called north course around the Panorama Reef. That would keep the big ships in sufficient deep water, which would secure them more safety. However, this standard landing maneuver is by more then two hours longer then the route chosen by Captain Moro.

The Salem Express commenced the journey from Saudi Arabia with two days’ delay caused by the repair of one engine. In the night from 15 to 16 December 1991 the weather got worse, and regarding the number of the people on board who were just deck passengers, the Captain decided for the shorter landing maneuver, that is to take the south route around the Hyndman Reefs. Another reason for shortening of the journey should have been the two days’ delay and an alleged pressure exercised by the Samatour Line wishing the passengers would be disembarked from the ferry and the ship would return back to Jeddah as soon as possible, where other thousands of pilgrims were waiting for their return from the holy city of Mecca.
In the course of her 450 miles long voyage, the Salem Express insignificantly went off the course in the east direction, with the effect that it got not so far from the Hyndman Reefs as usual. Because the midnight was approaching and the sea was rough, nobody from the captain’s bridge could see the reef. That resulted in the Salem Express striking the most southerly reef of the Hyndman Reefs, which was 1/3 of the size of the ferry itself, and she went down on 16 December at 00.30 a.m.

Many lives were lost immediately. Other people were swimming for their lives in the rough sea. None of the lifeboats was launched to help to rescue the drowning people. The only thing that may have helped people in that moment was the current taking them towards shore.
Officially, the ship was carrying from 650 persons to 578 passengers and 72 crew members. However, the witnesses insist that she was carrying up to twice as many passengers. Only 180 persons survived the disaster. The ship’s physician, who survived the disaster, mentioned in her testimony that the ship had been like a tin of sardines. There were so many people crowded on the main deck that it was nearly impossible to walk on it.

2006 Ferry al-Salam Boccaccio

The M/V al-Salam Boccaccio 98 (Arabic: Salam سلام means "peace") was an Egyptian Ro/Ro Passenger ferry, operated by El Salam Maritime Transport, that sank on 3 February 2006 in the Red Sea en route from Duba, Saudi Arabia, to Safaga in southern Egypt. Its last known position was 100 km (62 miles) from Duba, when it lost contact with the shore at about 22:00 EET (20:00 UTC).

The ship was carrying 1,312 passengers and 96 crew members, according to Mamdouh Ismail, head of al-Salaam Maritime Transport Company.Earlier an Egyptian embassy spokesman in London had mentioned 1,310 passengers and 105 crew (however, the Egyptian presidential spokesman mentioned 98 crew, while the Transport Minister said.The majority are thought to have been Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia, but they also included pilgrims returning from the Hajj in Mecca. The ship was also carrying about 220 vehicles.

General characteristics
after rebuild in 1991
Displacement: 11799 gross register tons (GRT)
5555 Net Register Tonnage
2200 metric tons of deadweight (DWT)
Length: 130.99 m
Beam: 23.6 m
Draft: 5.9 m
Propulsion: 2×9 cylinder GMT-Fiat diesels
16,560 kW (22,207.32 hp)
Speed: 19 knots (35.18 km/h)
Complement: 105 crew
Passengers: 1,310
Car capacity: 320

Ship history
The vessel was built by the Italian company Italcantieri in 1970 with IMO number 6921282 and named the Boccaccio at Monfalcone, Italy for Tirrenia di Navigazione. It was originally intended for Italian domestic service. Its dimensions included 130.99 m length overall with 23.60 m beam and 5.57 m draft. The main engines are rated at 16,560 kW for a maximum speed of 19 knots. The vessel had an original capacity of 200 automobiles and 1000 passengers. Five sister ships were built.

The vessel was rebuilt in 1991 by INMA at La Spezia, maintaining the same outer dimensions albeit with a higher superstructure, changing the draught to 5.90 m. At the same time its automobile capacity was increased to 320 and the passenger capacity was increased to 1,300. The most recent gross registered tonnage was 11,799.

The Boccaccio was purchased in 1999 by El Salam Maritime Transport, headquartered in Cairo, the largest private shipping company in Egypt and the Middle East, and renamed al-Salam Boccaccio 98; the registered owner is Pacific Sunlight Marine Inc. of Panama. She is also referred to as Salam 98.

The sinking

The reported point where the ship was last observed by coastal radarFirst reports[8] of statements by survivors indicated that smoke from the engine room was followed by a fire which continued for some time. There were also reports of the ship listing soon after leaving port and that after continuing for some hours the list became severe and the ship capsized within 10 minutes as the crew fought the fire. In a BBC radio news broadcast an Egyptian ministerial spokesman said that the fire had started in a storage area, was controlled, but then started again. The ship turned round and as it turned the capsize occurred. The significance of the fire was supported by statements attributed to crew members who were reported to claim that the firefighters essentially sank the ship when sea water they used to battle the fire collected in the hull because drainage pumps were not working.

Possible causes
There have been several theories expressed about possible causes of the sinking.

Fire: Some survivors dragged from the water have reported that there was a large fire on board before the ship sank, and there have been eyewitness accounts of thick black smoke coming from the engine rooms.
Design flaws: The al-Salam Boccaccio 98 was a roll on-roll off (ro-ro) ferry. This is a design that allows vehicles to drive on one end and drive off the other. This means that neither the ship nor any of the vehicles need to turn around at any point. It also means that the cargo hold is one long chamber going through the ship. To enable this to work, the vehicle bay doors must be very near the waterline, so if these are sealed improperly, water may leak through. Even a small amount of water moving about inside can gain momentum and capsize a ship, in a way known as the Free Surface Effect.
Modifications: In the 1980s the ship was reported to have had several modifications, including the addition of two passenger decks, and the widening of cargo decks. This would have made the ship less stable than it was designed to be, particularly as its draught was only 5.9m. Combined with high winds, the tall ship could have been toppled easily.
Vehicle movement: Another theory is that the rolling ship could have caused one or more of the 220 vehicles in its hold to break loose and theoretically be able to puncture a hole in the side of the ship.

On 17 October 2005, the Pride of al Salam 95, a sister ship of the al-Salam Boccaccio 98, also sank in the Red Sea, after being struck by the Cypriot-registered cargo ship Jebal Ali. In that accident, two people were killed and another 40 injured, some perhaps during a stampede to leave the sinking ship. After evacuating all the ferry passengers and crew, the Jebal Ali went astern and the Pride of al Salam 95 sank in about 3½ minutes....