Freighter GEROI ARSENALA UPDATE: SAR complete mess and utter failure

Freighter GEROI ARSENALA disaster went into complete SAR mess, even by now, 1530 UTC Apr 19, more than 10 hours after vessel sank, nothing is clear. Vessel sank some 14 nautical miles off eastern Crimea coast, exact position yet unknown. Some sources say vessel was already sailing in Black sea, notwithstanding stormy weather warning. Some sources say vessel was anchored on outer Kerch Strait anchorage, in Black sea. Some say vessel broke in two, some say vessel capsized.
Notice: GEROI ARSENALA is a river-sea type vessel, even nearly not as seaworthy as regular sea-going freighters. She could break in two, she could as well, capsize, river-sea type ships being equally vulnerable in both respects. I’ve had a rather nasty experience on board of river-sea type vessel in Japan Sea, after steering failure, in fresh weather. With cargo of timber, we were on the verge of capsizing.
Vessel sank, literally, under the nose of Navy, Coast Guard and Emergency Ministry officials and offices, they sent to SAR whatever they could, but failed to pick up from water, at least in time to rescue, 5 spotted survivors. Only one was rescued, in critical condition. Two bodies were recovered.
But it’s all not yet confirmed. They said three were rescued, then five, then three were recovered dead. They still busy with counting. I for one, can’t tell for sure yet, how many people are missing, how many found dead, and how many were rescued.
Most officials say there’s a severe Force 4 storm in the area. Force 4 is severe storm?! Some officials, who probably, know better, say it wasn’t gale force 4, it were waves 4 meters high, Force 4 storm is a misunderstanding, they say. Some say water temperature is 3-4 degrees Celsius, some say 7-8. Some say there’s wind 15-20 meters/sec in disaster area, some say it’s yet a forecast.
Who’s in charge, who’s commanding and coordinating SAR, 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. They drum up one helicopter with Emergency Ministry rescuers, who are not sea rescuers, they don’t have respective training and experience.
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 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 spoiling around as much as it can.
Voytenko Mikhail
April 19, 2017

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