Sea Diamond Cruise Ship Rams Santorini Greece Reef Sinks

Sea Diamond Cruise Ship Rams Santorini Greece Reef Sinks MapSea Diamond Cruise Ship Rams Santorini Greece Reef Sinks – The Louis Cruise Line cruise ship, Sea Diamond ran aground April 5, 2007,  just off the Aegean island of Santorini. Sea Diamond is registered in Greece.

Sea Diamond had 1600 passengers aboard, most were rescued, but two French passengers, a man and his daughter are missing. Divers began search the sunken vessel for the two on April 6.

Jean-Christophe Allain, 45, and his 16-year-old daughter, Maud Allain both from France are still missing. Initial reports that all were accounted for, are incorrect.

Tourism Minister Fanny Palli Petralia said she had spoken with the missing passenger’s wife. “The lady said her cabin filled with water when the ship struck rocks and that she narrowly escaped,” Petralia said. “She was not sure whether her husband and daughter made it out because things happened so suddenly … in a few seconds. Her other child was up on deck and was evacuated safely.”

This is the same situation as the Queen Of The North sinking last year. Two people are still missing from that sinking after initial reports said all were rescued.

Louis Cruise Lines said there were 730 Americans, 112 Spaniards, 100 French and many other foreign nationals on board, including Germans, Britons and 15 Australians, and 390 crew. The Merchant Marine Ministry said another Louis Cruise ship transported 296 passengers and 38 crew to the port of Piraeus on Friday. The rest of the passengers and the crew were expected in Piraeus later in the day.

After the ship ran aground on a volcanic reef, ripping open her hull, she began to list heavily and an oil slick was seen coating the ocean surface. Ships and small craft came to the rescue after the ship called out in distress as she began sinking.

Sea Diamond ran aground in well-chartered waters, half a nautical mile off shore, near a Santorini port and the company said it was conducting an investigation into the reasons for the incident. Investigators were questioning the captain and three officers about Thursday‘s crash into rocks, which are marked with warning lights and clearly indicated on navigation charts.

Passengers said they could hear a screeching sound, that some thought was the sound of the anchor dropping. Later the sound was identified as the hull scraping on the rocks at the bottom of the sea. As the ship’s hull ripped open, things went flying onboard, with dishes and other items crashing to the floor, due to the sudden jolt of the ship coming to a stop.

As she continuing to list, the vessel was towed into shallow waters, where the vessel finally rolled over, her hull in the air, never to sail again 15 hours after striking the reef.

The crew used boats and ladders to evacuate the passengers, assisted by a flotilla of vessels from the island, other cruise ships and Greek navy and airforce helicopters. The Sea Diamond’s Canadian passengers — mainly high school students from Quebec and Alberta, all got safely off the listing ship before it went down.

The Canadians are part of two groups of high school students — 26 from Alberta and about 40 from Quebec — who were among the 1,600 on board when the ship ran aground and started to take on water. The Alberta group, which was in Greece on the school’s annual travel-club trip, was to have spent Friday in Athens before they departed the following day.

By Friday, all that was left of the vessel built in 1986, and not renovated for the past decade, was the memory of the event that began with a horrifying sound of the vessel being torn apart, people screaming, and passengers struggling to get their life jackets on. The evacuation which eventually took place by climbing down down ropes and ladders into smaller vessels.

Halls were crowded with people in panic, looking for life jackets, and some ran from public areas back to their cabins to retrieve their life jackets. But some passengers complained of an insufficient supply of life vests, little guidance from crew members and being forced into a steep climb down rope-ladders to safety.

Everyone says they had visions of the Titanic in their minds. But, most said they felt better once on deck with their lifejacket and could see shore was less than a mile away.

Greek authorities have now charge the captain and key officers in the sinking. The captain, chief mate, second mate, third mate, chief cabin steward, and housekeeper of the Greek-flagged vessel were arrested after the accident, a Merchant Marine Ministry spokeswoman said.

The six officers were charged with causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment, state NET said. All were released pending further investigations. The ministry spokeswoman had said the captain and the five others were appearing before the prosecutor on the nearby island of Naxos.

The country’s tourism minister said those responsible for the accident “will be held accountable in the strictest way.”

UPDATE: JUNE 18, 2007
Greece levied a fine against the cruise line of $1.57 million for the environmental impact of the sinking.

Vassilis Mamaloukas, an environmental engineer leading the clean-up for contractor Environmental Protection Engineering SA, said the operation is going “very smoothly.”

“My personal assessment is that most of the fuel has already seeped out of the tanks, judging by the quantities we have picked up on the surface. We have collected some 250-300 tons, and a quantity has also been gathered on the coast.”

Video: Evacuating Sea Diamond