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Greek Ferry Hits Tanker During Arrival at Patras

Hellenic Spirit (Domaina / CC BY SA 3.0)
Hellenic Spirit (Domaina / CC BY SA 3.0)

Published Nov 27, 2023 6:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

The winter storm that hit Greece and the Aegean over the weekend disrupted shipping, forcing many ships to change their schedules or divert, and at least one major casualty - the sinking of the cargo ship Raptor - was linked to heavy weather. In addition, a ro/ro ferry struck two ships as it attempted to enter the harbor at Patras.

The Hellenic Spirit arrived at Patras on a routine voyage from Ancona on Saturday. The vessel had 128 passengers aboard, along with 116 vehicles. In the windy conditions, Hellenic Spirit struck the ro/ro ferry Superfast II and the product tanker Aegean Tiffany, according to local media.

The incident caused minor damage to the Hellenic Spirit, and no injuries were reported. The ferry was detained until after a class inspection was completed. She was due to depart Sunday but was held up after cracking was found in the area of the collision damage, according to local ERT News.

A video of the scene shows a long scrape on the side of the Hellenic Spirit's starboard quarter, just forward of her loading ramps.  

Officials scrutinize lost freighter's history

Greek maritime authorities are beginning to investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss of the freighter Raptor, which went down Sunday off Lesbos. The vessel had a history of serious deficiencies, including hull penetrations caused by corrosion, and it was under way in the Aegean when it was caught by a storm. The Raptor sank shortly after making a distress call. 

Only one crewmember, the chief engineer, was rescued from the water. He told Greek authorities that the vessel had been in distress for a day before the call was made, and the crew had been attempting to bail out flooding. 

"We were trying with buckets, and whatever other means we had on board, to get the water out, to empty it. At some point, the boat punctured, began to take a dangerous slope and then I jumped into the sea. Then I saw another 4-5 people jumping into the water and from then on I never saw them again," the engineer told Greek outlet Ta Nea. 

The Greek Coast Guard suspects that the Raptor may have been involved in smuggling or another form of illicit activity. A previous inspection uncovered serious material deficiencies aboard the ship, but also revealed that the vessel had a history of meeting up with other ships under way - an unusual behavior for a bulker. 

The timeline indicates that the captain delayed in making a distress call, officials suggested. The ship ceased movement at 0300, restarted, then halted again at 0715, likely due to mechanical troubles. The vessel sank at 0820, shortly after the mayday call.