Sunday, September 21, 2008

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....

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