Адмиралу П.С. Нахимову посвящается...
The Soviet passenger ship Admiral Nakhimov
Флот / (14-02-2011, 22:45)

Admiral Nakhimov


The Soviet passenger ship Admiral Nakhimov was built by Bremer Vulkan in 1925 for North German Lloyd as their transatlantic liner Berlin. On 13 November 1928 she rescued 23 passengers from the British liner Vectris, after it foundered off the American Coast. See . When North German Lloyd introduced newer and faster liners into the mail service, Berlin was relegated to secondary duties until she was laid-up in Bremerhaven in 1938. The following year she was chartered for two Kraft durch Freude, “Strength through Joy” workers cruises before being selected to be taken over by the German Navy. Off Swinemünde however, she suffered a boiler explosion that killed 17 crew members. Berlin was repaired in Hamburg and fitted out as a Hospital Ship. 

 

Berlin, Nakhimov

The North German Lloyd liner Berlin in New York in her original as-built condition 

After serving in Norway for some time, she was decommissioned in 1944 and became an accommodation ship. In January 1945, Berlin was ordered to take part in Operation Hannibal, the transportation of refugees and soldiers from the Eastern Baltic. On 31 January 1945, while forming up in convoy to head east, the Berlin struck a mine off Swinemünde and was put in tow for Kiel, but she struck another mine and was beached in shallow water. There was one fatality. All usable equipment was salvaged by 5 Feb 1945 and the ship was abandoned. 

Berlin sank in the area that is today Świnoujście Bay, Poland. She was refloated by the Soviets in 1949 and renamed Admiral Nakhimov; then after a protracted repair and refit at the Warnow yard, Warnemünde she entered passenger service for the Black Sea Steamship Company in 1957. In 1962 the ship was used to transport soldiers to Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the summer travel season, Admiral Nakhimov operated six-day cruises on the Black Sea between Odessa and Batumi. 

Berlin, Nakhimov

The 60 year old ex-German Liner operating as the Soviet cruise ship Admiral Nakhimov 

At 22:00 Moscow Time on 31 August 1986, Admiral Nakhimov sailed from Novorossiysk en route to Sochi, two of the intermediate ports on her standard cruise itinerary. She was carrying 888 passengers and 346 crew, under the command of Captain Vadim Markov. Most of the passengers were Ukrainian, with others from Moldavia, the Baltic republics and Central Asia. Not long after clearing the port, the bridge team realised that a large fully loaded bulk carrier Pyotr Vasev, was approaching on a course that could lead to a possible collision. Radio contact was established at 22:47, during which Pyotr Vasev expressed the view that the two ships would clear each other, but she would take steps to ensure that all would be well. Admiral Nakhimov made a small turn to starboard to open the distance between the ships. 

Despite the message, Captain Viktor Tkachenko of the Pyotr Vasev did nothing to slow his ship, or change course, but from a Russian chart of their respective courses the correct port-to-port pass looks close but safe. 

Captain Markov of Admiral Nakhimov was convinced that the freighter would pass without incident and retired to his cabin, leaving his second officer Alexander Chudnovsky in charge. From 23:00 Chudnovsky radioed Pyotr Vasev several times, asking about her course and her further actions. At 23:05 Chudnovsky inexplicably began a 10 degrees turn to port, bringing Admiral Nakhimov into the path of the approaching bulk carrier. At 23:10 p.m., Chundovsky changed the helm to hard a port and called on VHF for the freighter to go full astern. Pyotr Vasyov complied, but it was too late and at 23:12 the two ships collided, eight miles from the port at Novorossiysk and two miles from shore line. 

Admiral Nakhimov continued forward with the freighter's bow in its side, ripping a 900 square foot hole in the hull between the engine and boiler rooms. She immediately took a list to starboard, and her lights went out. After a few seconds, the emergency diesel generator powered on, but failed two minutes later, plunging the sinking ship into darkness. People below decks quickly became lost in the dark and rapidly heeling ship. Admiral Nakhimov lacked air conditioning and almost all cabin portholes were open. It is believed that some watertight doors were removed during the conversion. Admiral Nakhimov sank in only seven minutes. There was no time to launch the lifeboats. Hundreds of people dived into the oily water, clinging to lifejackets, barrels and pieces of debris. 

Rescue ships began arriving just 10 minutes after the ship went down. The Pyotr Vasev was not badly damaged, and assisted in the rescue effort. Sixty-four rescue ships and 20 helicopters rushed to the scene, and 836 people were pulled from the water. Some people were so slick with fuel oil that they could not keep hold of the hands of their rescuers. Sailors had to jump into the water to save people. Passengers and crew had little time to escape, and 423 of the 1,234 on board perished. Sixty-four of those killed were crew members and 359 were passengers. 

The Soviet government formed a commission of inquiry to investigate the disaster. It decided that both Captain Markov of Admiral Nakhimov and Captain Tkachenko of Pyotr Vasev had violated navigational safety rules. Despite repeated orders to let Admiral Nakhimov pass, Tkachenko had refused to slow his ship and only reported the accident 40 minutes after it occurred. Captain Markov was absent from the bridge. Both Captains were found guilty of criminal negligence and sentenced to 15 years in prison (both were released in 1992). 

 

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Нахимов, памятник в Севастополе
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