NORMAN ATLANTIC on fire Dec 28, 2014, Italian Navy Photo
Updated Dec 30: Two Albanian seamen have been killed on a tug towing the fire-damaged NORMAN ATLANTIC ferry. Both men died after being struck by the connecting cable between the vessels, Albanian officials say. The death toll from those on the ferry has risen to eleven.
Update by Editor: The death toll in ferry disaster has risen to ten people.
Update by Editor: As of the middle of the day on Dec 29, all passengers and crew were evacuated from the burned ship. The death toll has risen to eight after the earlier figure of seven people was given.
An Italian-Flag ferry chartered to Greek ferry operator ANEK Lines is on fire and drifting off the coast of Albania under very unfavorable weather conditions. The 26,904 gross ton NORMAN ATLANTIC suffered a fire that reportedly began on the vehicle deck at 6:00am local time and quickly spread. Passengers onboard stated the deck was so hot where they would normally have mustered to board the lifeboats that they had to flee higher in the ship to the helicopter-landing area. Photographs showed the vessel fully engulfed in smoke and flame. The ferry was traveling from Greece to Italy with 478 people aboard. As this is being written 150 have been rescued with one victim confirmed dead and another injured. Hundreds were still trapped on top decks as conditions approaching gale-force 10 winds and choppy seas hampered evacuation. Freezing temperatures and winds in excess of 55 miles per hour are adding to the danger and discomfort of those aboard. Greek and Italian rescue helicopters and a number of surface vessels struggled to reach the crippled ferry, as it drifted toward the Albanian coast. Greek Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said seven merchant vessels have encircled the ferry in an attempt to shelter it from fierce Force 10 winds.
The location of the ferry disaster began approximately 44 nautical miles (81 km) northwest of the island of Corfu, after the ship had left the Greek port of Igoumenitsa. The charter to ANEK Lines began just this month, in December, 2014. The ship was built in 2009 as AKEMAN STREET for Ermine Street Shipping Co Ltd, of London. Following a refit conducted at Malta in May 2011, she was chartered to Saremar and renamed SCINTU in June 2011. In January 2013, she was chartered to Grande Navi Veloci, followed by a charter to Moby Lines in April 2013. A further charter to LD Lines was arranged in October 2013, which brought about her current name. The ship was renamed NORMAN ATLANTIC in January 2014.
NORMAN ATLANTIC shown here as SCINTU Photo by Eustace Bagge (Aug16-2013) This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
The ship is 610 feet, 3 inches (186.00 meters) long and is powered by two MAN B&W 9L48/60B diesel engines, giving the ferry a cruising speed of 23.5 knots in regular service. The ship was built by Visentini, at Porto Viro, Italy as yard number 222, and completed in November, 2009. It is currently owned by Visemar di Navigazione, registered in Bari, Italy. The Roll-on/Roll-off passenger ferry is crewed by both Greeks and Italians.
Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
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