This deadly Crimean Shipping

General cargo vessel ANDA sank in Black sea in the morning July 29 some 25 nm off Crimean coast, near the main Russian Black sea Naval Base, Sevastopol, full of Russian Navy ships, busying themselves with preparations for annual Naval Parade, which took place next day, on July 30.
Vessel reported to capsize and remain for some time afloat, before she finally sank on 1,000 meter depth. As she was loaded with 2,400 tons of wheat, first thing which comes to mind when attempting to figure out the cause of the sinking, is of course, cargo shift. But vessel didn’t capsize all that sudden – crew managed to lower life boat and life raft or rafts, and went into life boat and raft. From 9 crew (3 of Indian nationality and 6 of Syrian, including missing Chief Engineer), 1 went missing, the rest were picked up from boat and raft by a Greek bulk carrier MINOAN GRACE (IMO 9605839), and taken to Yalta port, Crimea, where they were disembarked.

The storm wasn’t all that catastrophic – some 20 meters/sec wind, swell, but nothing close to typhoon or cyclone or severe storm. ANDA was an ocean-going freighter, not your local coastal “river-sea” type mongrel. Such weather is no threat to such a vessel, providing she’s in more or less seaworthy condition, and manned with more or less professional crew.
Distress signal was sent at 0605 Moscow time July 29, by 0900 Moscow time crew abandoned vessel, they were rescued by 1100 Moscow time. Vessel sank at 1146 Moscow time. Taken together, facts say, that the crew most probably, didn’t respond to developing mishap with due diligence, which may be explained by crew’s incompetence. They’ve had enough time to evacuate in orderly manner, and still, one crew went missing, probably because of panic. Ship’s agent in Crimea, Mr. Manenko, informed Russian News Agency TASS, that according to Captain’s (of Syrian nationality) testimony, “vessel sank in just minutes”. Facts say a different story. Be it as Captain says, crew wouldn’t be able to lower life boat. Timeline also contradicts Captain’s (and Agent’s) version.
On her last journey, vessel was sailing from Crimean port Kerch to Tripoli Libya. While at Kerch, vessel’s AIS was off, to hide Crimean port call, which is violation of sanctions, imposed on Crimea shipping after Crimea was annexed by Russia. It wasn’t vessel’s first call to outlawed peninsula – only in July this year ANDA visited Kerch three times, prior to her last call.

In all probability, the roots of the disaster lie in ANDA’s deployment in illegal Crimean shipping. Such a deployment lowers vessel’s status below regular substandard rank, because the only thing owner is thinking of, and caring, is fat freight for illegal voyages, with owner’s full knowledge of risks involved, and readiness to accept them. That makes the vessel (and crew) dispensable – vessel may be arrested and confiscated, owner already included that risk in his finance schemes. With the same financial consequences, she may sink, or burn out, or disappear into a black hole. She’s already loss anyway, because charterers will think twice before chartering vessel, which violated sanctions and is recorded in Black List of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meaning that the vessel can be arrested not only in Ukraine, but in other countries as well. Such a vessel is an asset to be squeezed dry without usual maintenance or manning standards, even those practiced in substandard shipping. Quite probably, ANDA already paid itself over, and was bringing profit at a minimal cost.

General cargo vessel GEROI ARSENALA sank on April 19 this year in Kerch Strait area, in Black sea, with cargo of grain. Of 12 crew, only 1 was rescued. Vessel was caught in a severe storm, Captain instead of sheltering in Kerch or Azov sea, decided to sail into oncoming storm – purely suicidal decision, not yet explained (GEROI ARSENALA was a river-sea type vessel, not even close as seaworthy as sea-going freighters).

In both cases, survivors were rescued by merchants ships which happened to be nearby, in both cases Russian SAR system failed, utterly.
Both vessels sank, literally, under the nose of Navy, Coast Guard and Emergency Ministry officials and offices. Who’s in charge, who’s commanding and coordinating SARs, is unknown. A bunch of agencies, navies, CG and god knows who else (including coastal provinces officials), each on their own, both in action and in statements.
Russia doesn’t have sea rescue service at all – didn’t have, doesn’t have and won’t have, at least under present regime. Salvage is totally different story, there are salvage capacities (of which Russia has quite a lot), and there is SAR, with respective required facilities (rescue boats and helicopters first of all) and trained sea rescuers. Zero. Russia just doesn’t have any, and don’t care. Russia is too busy playing geopolitical games and demonstrating her military might, which is, accidentally, as with nearly everything else Russia-related, bluff and screening smoke.

Even in ANDA disaster news Russia managed to twist or omit facts: from Russian State News Agencies news one gets an impression, that ANDA survivors were rescued by Russian salvors. Impression is wrong. News Agencies, intentionally, didn’t mention the name of the vessel which picked up survivors from life boat and raft, and delivered them to Yalta, Crimea. Only some local media gave the name of that vessel.
On photo Greek bulk carrier MINOAN GRACE disembarking survivors at Yalta port. See full story at - in Russian.

No doubt, more accidents are to come, because Crimean Shipping, due to its’ illegal nature, is prone to accidents and disasters.

Voytenko Mikhail
July 31, 2017

Sinking news:

Cargo ship sank in Black sea, 1 crew missing
July 29, 2017 10:20 am
General cargo ship ANDA capsized and sank off Sevastopol, Crimea, Black Sea, in the morning July 29. Vessel with cargo of wheat was en route from Kerch, Crimea, to Tripoli Libya. Of 9 crew (Syrians and Indians) 8 were rescued, 1 went missing, SAR under way, 3 crew were picked up from a life boat, 5 from a life raft. Vessel understood to be caught in storm, she left Kerch port, notwithstanding gale warning. AIS doesn’t record Kerch call, because by calling Crimean port, vessel violated sanctions imposed on Crimean shipping.

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