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God save us from sinking in Russian waters

Nov. 11, 2012 at 08:19 by Mikhail Voytenko in Accidents


An unidentified tug Atoll sank late at night Nov 10 in Azov sea somewhere close to Primirsko-Akhtarsk port, Krasnodar region coast, Russia, presumably some 5 miles off coastline. Tug was towing a pontoon, and started to sink allegedly, due to water ingress. 3 crew evacuated to pontoon and later was picked up by a passing general cargo vessel Vasiliy Klimov (IMO 9396646). The disaster was reported by a local Ministry of Emergencies of Russia office. There is one known Russian tug Atoll, but definitely not the one which sank, it’s tug Atoll, IMO 9076533, registered in S-Petersburg sea port. Most probably the tug which sank is a small tug from one of the small sea ports scattered along Azov sea coastline, small enough not to have Class and IMO number.
Once again the accident illustrated the total lack of anything resembling Maritime Rescue Service in Russia. There is not even such thing as recognized Rescue body. There is Ministry of Emergencies, there is a Salvage State Agency, there are Navy and Coast Guard, and quite a number of other State institutions, but there is no mechanism of the coordinated rescue operation. Everybody is for himself and at his own will. It means if there is a good chance of a Rescue operation to be a success, all the abovementioned bodies elbow each other claiming their leadership, to get the rewards and good publicity. If there is a feeling of disaster and failure, with possible negative consequences for the responsible body, all the involved organizations elbow each other trying to avoid the final responsibility.
But there is much more in it, than the organizational chaos, or to put it other way, much less. Maritime Rescue in Russia is non-existing in terms of specialists and equipment. Russia doesn’t have all-weather rescue boats, maritime rescue helicopters and maritime rescuers. I mean Russia doesn’t have them at all, anywhere along its’ extensive coastlines, either in Black/Azov sea or Baltic, or Barents sea, or Japan sea, or Okhotsk sea, or in the Pacific.  There is a number of big ocean-going salvage tugs, but it’s a salvage, not Search and Rescue. When there are news that during maritime rescue operation in Russian waters helicopters were engaged, that means helicopters are either commercial, or emergency ones (not trained and equipped for maritime rescue), or military, or whatever. One won’t find any mentioning of rescue boats, because I repeat, they’re non-existing.
Vessel unlucky enough to be caught in a distress situation in Russian waters, is a subject to two possible disasters – its’ own and a disaster called Russian Maritime Rescue. That’s why Russian sailors say “If my vessel sinks, pray it happens in waters of some decent country with modern Rescue Service. God save us from sinking in Russian waters.”
Voytenko Mikhail
Nov 11
Maritime Bulletin http://www.odin.tc

God save us from sinking in Russian waters

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