Trawler Dalniy Vostok was not “sunk by greed and corruption”

April 16, 2015 at 08:29 by Mikhail Voytenko in Accidents

Trawler Dalniy Vostok claimed 62 lives, 7 are still considered missing (unquestionably they died, most probably being trapped inside capsized vessel), 63 were rescued, all suffering from different degree hypothermia.
Trawler Dalniy Vostok confirmed to sink after capsizing, which was caused by faulty ballasting, resulting in reduced stability. Vessel was heaving heavy trawl, several negative factors coincided and led to capsizing, the main factor being reduced stability. It’s a sheer miracle, that so many people were rescued alive, considering the circumstances – they had to leave capsized vessel without enough time to take on any extra clothes, not to mention immersion suits. Temperature of the water was deadly low, slightly above 0 degrees C. Time of survival in a water with such low temperature doesn’t exceed 10 minutes. The main rescuer was reefer Andromeda (IMO 9000364), belonging to the same company, which owns Dalniy Vostok. Andromeda and other vessels (trawlers fishing in the same area) were close enough to come in time. Be they even half an hour time of sailing away, number of casualties would be much bigger.
Faulty ballasting in its’ turn, according to already available information, was caused by not filling empty fuel tanks, after consuming fuel from them, with ballast sea water. As it came out, this is a widespread practice among fishing vessel in the region, due to many difficulties and rather high expenses connected with disposal of oiled waters in ports. BATM (Big Autonomous Trawler Reefer – Bolshoy Avtonomniy Trawler Morozilniy) Dalniy Vostok was built in Soviet times, project BATM Pulkovskiy Meridian. Vessel of this project were built specially for fishing in World Ocean in most harsh environment, they proved themselves to be highly reliable. Most probably, the crews were taking into account reduced stability caused by empty tanks, but this time, being too excited by a trawl full of hefty catch, they went reckless, as it often happens with fishermen – their work in general is like gamble, for quite many of them the fervour of fishing attracts them about as much, as money.
The general tendency is, at least in Russian media, that the culprits are already nominated – Master of the vessel (he died, and consequently, he may be blamed for anything), and the owner. Owner is rich, ergo he is guilty, no other evidences required.

Russian Investigative Committee is in charge of an investigation, already laying the blame on Master of the vessel, owner and “corrupted” port authorities, which allowed vessel to go on her voyage. Regretfully, some of the industry media (most part of it, to be exact), re-posted Russian major media news which cited Investigative Committee speaker, Mr. Markin. All global major media fell for it, too, under a blaring headline “Dalniy Vostok was sunk by greed and corruption”, created by Investigative Committee. Well, let me tell you, that Russian Investigative Committee is notoriously famous in Russia and beyond for anything, but incorruptibility and unselfishness. In Russian maritime and fisheries industry Russian Investigative Committee is one of the most hated State institutions, for its’ hopelessly frustrating incompetence and well, for greed and corruption, too. Investigative Committee just wouldn’t let professional investigation to be launched, while its’ statement, so popular with major and industry media, strikes professionals as basically wrong. Just one example – life boats seats weren’t enough for all people on board, said Committee. Dalniy Vostok could have no life boats at all, or enough boats to accommodate passengers from middle-sized cruise liner, it didn’t matter, simply because vessel capsized and didn’t have chance to lower boats. Vessel’s stability couldn’t be controlled by port authorities, or any authorities, or god himself, due to a fact which is far beyond Committee education, intelligence and life experience – vessel’s stability is a subject to constant changes, depending on fuel, cargo, etc.
I started something of a public investigation on my website Maritime Bulletin, because disaster, understandably, made quite a stir in professional community, and because nobody trust Committee and its’ “investigation’, thanks to many very bad experiences. I’m receiving many letters from professionals with facts, information and analysis, all of it may be found in Maritime Bulletin http://www.odin.tc/
It’s in Russian, but those interested may use Google or engage interpreter.
Voytenko Mikhail
Apr 16

First news:
Big reefer trawler Dalniy Vostok sank in Okhotsk sea, 43 dead, 24 missing
April 1, 2015
Big reefer trawler Dalniy Vostok was reported sank to Emergency Agency of Sakhalin Island, Russia, at 2339 Moscow time Apr 1, trawler sank in Okhotsk sea. According to many media reports, vessel sank in a very short time and didn’t issue distress signal, so most probably distress signal was received after EPIRB was activated. Last known position AIS at 1700 Moscow time Apr 1 in 56 55N 150 26E, 155 nautical miles south of Magadan, western Okhotsk sea port (see pic). Vessel was marked by AIS as “Stopped moving”. There were 130 people on board, by 0600 Moscow time 103 were found and lifted from water, among them 63 alive and 43 dead, 24 are still missing. More than 20 vessels in the area, and Kamchatka Emergency Agency helicopter, are engaged in SAR. First media news say capsizing or hitting ice were the main probable causes. Hitting ice seems highly improbable, regarding sudden sinking and the fact, that there are no icebergs or heavy ice in Okhotsk sea. Most probably, sinking was caused by a number of factors, faulty ballasting plus lifting of the trawl being the main suspects.

Trawler Dalniy Vostok was not “sunk by greed and corruption”

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