Russia: NF Rescuers Find Cargo Ship Lost in Storm

Participants of search operation in the morning of Nov 16 detected dry cargo ship Kapitan Kuznetsov lost the day before in the White Sea; the ship took the ground in severe gale. The crew suffered insignificantly, only two men got slight head injuries.

The accident possibly occurred since the crew had not received updated weather forecast and was unaware of coming storm.

The ‘river-sea’ class cargo ship operated by Northwest Inland Navigation Company was heading from Yaro-Yakha port, Kara Sea to Arkhangelsk for winter anchorage. There were 11 crewmembers on board, including female cook.

The ship lost radio contact in the night of Nov 15. By that time the ship was at the White Sea’s entrance. The information of severe weather conditions in that region caused additional concerns. Forecasters reported about ten-point cloudage, strong wind with gusts up to 18 mps, and waves up to 2.5-3.5 meters high.

At 4 am Nov 15 (Moscow time) the ship switched on radio distress beacons in the White Sea’s neck 40 miles off Kola Peninsula.

Having received the distress signal, rescuers informed all vessels around the possible accident site. The closest was icebreaker Vladislav Strizhov. She arrived there at 11 am Nov 15 and started search under severe weather conditions.

Several rescue ships also headed to aid, although they needed more than a day to reach the site. Helicopters could not be used due to bad weather conditions.

Northern Fleet (NF) antisubmarine aircraft Il-38 took off Severomorsk at noon of Nov 15, but searches were fruitless because of stormy weather.

Search of Kapitan Kuznetsov was resumed on Nov 16. In total, 59 men and 12 vehicles (including 3 vessels and 5 aircrafts) were involved in the search operation.

At 11.30 am Nov 16, the cargo ship was detected by NF aircraft Il-38 in the estimated search area. According to EMERCOM, the ship’s deckhouse was broken by waves, but both engines operated normally.

A doctor and a rescuer were dropped on board the ship from helicopter. Initially, it was reported no crewmembers suffered, but it was found out later that two sailors had got slight head injuries.

At first, it was reported with reference to regional EMERCOM department that the ship had started to head for Archangelsk by own power. But later on the operator said the ship was moving by means of tug. According to Rosmorrechflot, the towage is carried out by icebreaker Dickson (operated by FSUE Rosmorport).

The ship’s navigational aids and electric equipment will need repairs.

Kapitan Kuznetsov was forced to stop due to stormy situation, but the crew was not aware of that, reported RIA Novosti referring to the ship’s operator. The weather forecast the crewmen received four days ago contained no information about such ‘natural disasters’.

Investigative authorities have already initiated a criminal case. The ground is violation of maritime traffic safety and maritime transport operation rules.

The cargo ship was built in 1984 and is meant for transportation of dry cargo, timber, and mineral fertilizers. Length is 86.7 meters, beam is 12 meters, hull height is 3.5 meters, carrying capacity is 1,450 tons.

Naval Today Staff, November 18, 2011