Bulk carrier Focomar Update. News, facts, question. No answers yet.
Aug 10 0600 UTC: according to an unconfirmed report, bulk carrier Focomar did sink, but it needs confirmation. Fate of crew unknown, but it can be said, more or less with certainty, that the crew is on Samhah island. Unconfirmed report said there are 15 Russian on the island.
The whole story may have a rather simple explanation – vessel suffered mechanical failure and limped to islands southwest of Socotra, to find shelter from monsoon storms. There the crew tried to fix problem by own means, while owner did everything he could to avoid salvage or towage. Something went wrong, and vessel began to sink.
But there are other facts contradicting it. Singapore was indicated as next port of call when vessel was leaving Jibouti on July 27-28, then port of destination was labeled as “Guards on board” – widely spread practice for vessels plying Gulf of Aden. Later after breakdown it was replaced with a letter “B”. While under way before the breakdown, vessel changed course and headed towards Yemeni mainland coast. Some time later vessel changed course again, and sailed to islands west of Socotra. What it all was about?
Yemeni officials stated that they informed Russia on the situation with the vessel, but didn’t get any reply. Among Arab-language media, which published Focomar news, was already well-known Russian new multi-language news monster Sputnik, i.e. Russian media should know about an accident, but didn’t say a word in Russian or English or any other language except Arab.
So, what happened, what is going on, who’s to rescue the crew and again, why Yemen and regional media believe the vessel is Russian?
No answer yet. I’ll try to engage some of Russian national media in order to make the story public, maybe (if there’s such a need) to assist crew and in general, to find out, what’s all about.
Mystery of bulk carrier Focomar is becoming more mysterious
Focomar accident is becoming more and more mysterious. According to available AIS data, vessel is very much alive and during Aug 8 moved in northeast direction, last known position 13 13N 053 25E, speed some 1.5 knots. It’s an apparent leeway. Meanwhile, I’ve got a letter from Russian arabist, informing me, that the crew, presumably 24 seamen, landed on Samhah island – small island southwest of western Socotra. There is only one dwelling site on the island, a small village with some 150 inhabitants. There is no sea communication with the island due to monsoon. There is no air connection, either, thanks to Yemen unrest and chaos. One can’t but wonder:
What happened to the vessel and why crew abandoned vessel, was it because of danger of sinking or because they’ve been forced to abandon it?
What was vessel doing in this area starting from Aug 1, wandering among small islands to the west of Socotra?
Why regional media and Yemeni authorities believe bulk carrier is Russian?
Why vessel was hiding its’ port of destination?
Was the whole story caused by maybe, some peculiar cargo on board, and what cargo may it be, considering situation in Yemen and in Middle East in general?
Mysterious bulk carrier Focomar sinking near Socotra
Yemeni officials made a statement on Aug 8 reporting sinking of bulk carrier Focomar near Sokotra island, Gulf of Aden. All available information by now, 1500 UTC Aug 8 is contradictory and cofusing – regional media say vessel is Russian, but according to all available data, she’s Greek. She doesn’t look to be sunk, either. Some other reports say salvage tug is under way from Dubai, to reach Focomar on Aug 9 for towage. Vessel is said to issue distress signal on Aug 7.
I’ve been alerted about Focomar on Aug 5, and informed about her erratic movements and apparent restricted maneuverability. For two days I was trying to find out what’s going on, but gave up due to the lack of info. crew is a mix of Filipino, Russian and Ukrainian nationalities. Why Yemeni officials and media believe that the vessel is Russian, I have no idea.