Alexandros T - sinking off South Africa

non descript
4th May 2006, 14:48
The below is courtesy of Tradewinds newspaper today 4 May 2006 - and whilst their headline says "sinks" it is not clear at this stage if it is actually sunk, but I rather fear this is the case.



Cape sinks off SA

The 171,875-dwt bulker Alexandros T (built 1989) has sunk off the coast of South Africa and twenty seven of its crew of 33 are missing.

It is understood that the 30,109-dwt bulker Fortune Express (built 1998) has rescued six of the crew and continues to search for the remaining 27.

“The Alexandros T has broken up and is sinking,” said Mark Hellenberg, a search and rescue co-coordinator at the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

All 33 crew have abandoned the ship using life rafts and the 30,109-dwt bulker Fortune Express (built 1998) was preparing to pick them up.

An earlier report said the 171,875-dwt Alexandros T (built 1989) had suffered an ingress of water into one or two cargo compartments.

The capesize, en route from Brazil to China laden with iron ore, had diverted to Cape Town with the intention of conducting further inspections.

But late on Wednesday afternoon the ship sent out a distress call over 300 nautical miles off Port Alfred on the Eastern Cape coast.

South Africa’s Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre and the National Ports Authroity are co-ordinating a joint recue operation.

The 2,900-gt salvage tug Smit Amandla (built 1976) has been sent to the scene. Sea conditions are 4-to-5-metre swells with 45 knot winds.

The Alexandros T, which is operated by Greece’s Overseas Marine Enterprises, sailed from the Brazilian port of Ponta Da Madeira on 14 April 2006.

By Dale Wainwright in Singapore

4th May 2006, 17:06
Thanks Tonga for keeping us in the picture, any idea about the vessels prior history or pic


non descript
4th May 2006, 18:14
The Alexandros T was built in Romania, ex names are Corona Luck, Comanesti.

Reported sold to Overseas Marine on 12 June 2003 for US$ 10.5m.

St. Vincent & Grenadines Flagged, LR Classed, Capesize Bulker, Call Sign J8B2685, IMO Number 8907735. DIMENSIONS/TONNAGES: Moulded Depth of 24.40 m., Lightship air draft of 38.89 m., Tonnage of 72,905 Suez Canal Net, 52,896 International Net and 169,160 Dwt (long). ENGINE DETAILS: Engine Description 2 S.A. 7-cyl., Engine Model K7SZ70/150CL

Good manners and/or libel laws stop me from making much further public comment about her pedigree........


5th May 2006, 11:07



non descript
5th May 2006, 11:22
Very sadly it seems that the vessel has sunk and 26 crew are missing. The CSE Fortune Express is reported to have managed to rescue seven crew member from a life raft and one from the water.

5th May 2006, 13:22
Seems not to be in that in that bad a shape on this picture.

Maybe a structural weakness.

Anyway, the quality of upkeep is paramount as even recent ships can break up underway.

We have the example of the Ievoli Sun, a 1989 Chemical carrier that developed a structural weakness off the Brittany coast. She sank a few hours after being taken in tow. She was only 11 years old

5th May 2006, 21:35
Problem is they are built big, carry big cargos but I feel the big stresses they experience are not properly understood.

They may be strong enough when built but as they age, the continual movement in a seaway, the constant trips, and probably poor maintainance take there toll.

Its a bit like the 'final straw' with the camel and the continued flogging of a tired horse, they both collapse.

These ships dont have the working life that the old cargo ships of the 50s, 60s and 70s had. Plus I think the steel is not as good these days.


non descript
5th May 2006, 23:01

There is a lot sound analysis in your of comment; the use of large bulk carriers in carrying heavy cargoes is a very emotive subject and within the industry there are some very accurate assessments of the problems of these ships, as well as some conclusions arrived at more by emotion than fact.

Some of the points you touch upon are very valid; as in the stresses that these relatively large ships suffer during their working lives. Taking just one of your points and expanding it, the size of ships in 2006 compared to 50 years ago, e.g. Alexandros T versus Oregis, leaves us with a very clear picture that the latter has a far better chance in a seaway than the former. This is not only the fact that one can ride the seas in an easier and more forgiving manner than the other, but also that the ratio of lightweight to deadweight is much greater with the smaller ships.

There is always a temptation (in some quarters) to think of large bulkers and compare them directly with large tankers of similar deadweight – this is unwise, as they differ in so many ways in terms of construction and use. One spectacular difference comes from the way the cargo is handled; in one the cargo is loaded and discharged through a system of pipes, but in the other, huge rectangular holes are cut in the main-deck to allow massive grabs direct access to the frames and tank-tops.

For the moment, my thoughts are with the crew and their families.


6th May 2006, 04:54
A sad day friends.My thoughts are with the families too.Rest in Peace Brothers.

6th May 2006, 16:08
Thanks Tonga for your kind words, my thoughts are with the families too. I just wish that these disasters were a thing of the past, but unfortunately they are not.

Big is not always best as we all know and financial considerations in many instances outway safety considerations. Until all the considerations of personal safety for crews and passengers outway financial considerations world wide, and we know they never will, then it is a sad fact of life that these disasters will continue to happen.


John Gurton
8th May 2006, 12:28
Having sailed as Master on similar ships this disaster struck a chord with me.
I have loaded an iron ore cargoes in Brazil for Indonesia. The holds are loaded alternately to improve stability but this does create large sheer stresses on the Hull. These stresses must come within the prescribed loads allowed by the classification societies. Other considerations to taken into account is the sequence of loading so as not to create too large a stress on any section of the hull in harbour condition. I believe this ship had some problems in the past with stress cracks and was held up for repairs. In light of this were the stress guidelines revisited or treated with a greater safety factor?
When I sailed from Brazil the charterers "weather routed" the ship, they proposed agreat circle which would have taken me some 400 miles south of the Cape. I argued the case with them and after a few days of telexes we agreed a composit great circle some 90 miles south of the Cape. Weather charts at the time showed that had I gone for the great circle route I would have been pounding into force 8's and 9's instead of having a healthy force 6 behind me. Was she weather routed this way?
There was a Bergesen ship dissappeared in the same area many years ago, I wonder if asimilar thing happened?

non descript
8th May 2006, 16:14
Today's Lloyd's List:


Hopes were fading yesterday of finding further survivors from the bulker Alexandros T, which sank last Wednesday leaving 26 crew members missing.

The vessel’s managers, Overseas Marine Enterprises, said on Friday: “The immediate and urgent priority is the search and rescue investigation as well as the welfare of the surviving crew who are all understood to be in good health,”

However, the Greek company said while the search continued no further crew members had been located, adding: “The managers continue to hope and pray that their crew will be located [and] remain in close contact with the families of the seafarers and will continue to provide all possible support.”

The CSE Fortune Express, which rescued seven crew members, was continuing to participate in the search at the weekend. A second ship, the Fu Le, also took part in the search and was due to be replaced by the Freedom Lily. The salvage tug Smit Amandla is also on the scene.

While four liferafts were found empty two remained unaccounted for, the managers said. There were six immersion suits on the ship, although it is not clear whether any of the missing crew members had time to put them on.

While it was too early to speculate on causes of the sinking, a spokesman for the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners stressed the importance of a full investigation by the flag state, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Intercargo said it was also interested in information on the ship’s operational and abandonment procedures and details of loading rates for the iron ore cargo it was carrying from Brazil to China.

Concern has been expressed about high loading rates in Brazil and Intercargo has been conducting a survey of loading rates worldwide.

8th May 2006, 16:42
It's just been announced that the South African Maritime Rescue Agency have abandoned their search for survivors, although the shipping owners are continuing.

Empty life-jackets have been found washed ashore amongst debris.

God Bless them.


9th May 2006, 14:02
Again a bad fact of navigation on the seas!!! very sadly !!!!

10th May 2006, 19:55
Press release May 10 --

A press release from the managers of bulker Alexandros T., dated today, states: The search for survivors continues, with salvage tug Smit Amandla still on station for the owner's account, but with no sightings of any more survivors. Since the tug began its search on May 5, it has covered an area of about 1,500 square miles. However since then, currents and winds have more than doubled the required search area and given the passage of time, there is now little hope that any more survivors will be found. The operation is being kept under review. A US Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in November, 2003, uncovered deficiencies that were promptly rectified. The vessel had at that stage been recently acquired by the owners and was in the process of being upgraded to their own very high standards. Since that 2003 inspection the vessel has passed through Special Survey and numerous Port State Control inspections without detention in states with extremely high levels of scrutiny such as Australia and South Africa, the most recent inspection being at the last load port when no material deficiencies were noted. Regular class and statutory inspections found the vessel to have met all class and statutory requirements and to be ISM compliant. Lloyd's Register, the vessel's classification society issued a statement on May 4 confirming that the vessel was fully up to date with all classification and statutory inspections. Additional inspections by interested commercial parties, likewise, found nothing to question the structural integrity of the vessel. The managers are committed to doing everything in their power to identify the causes of the loss of Alexandros T.


non descript
10th May 2006, 22:59
Thanks Rushie for posting this, but why can’t I look upon this statement from the Managers with more charity, surely it was not just the claim that the tug was “still on station for the owner’s account” that struck the wrong chord? Maybe it was the thought that if as much effort had been applied to making the ship as safe as this “watertight” press release, they would not have needed to spend money on having it so eloquently written.

A text overloaded with safeguards to protect the Managers and Owners won’t bring back the Crew.


11th May 2006, 09:24
Absolutely true Tonga.

To disappear so quickly rings alarm bells of massive structural failure. Detentions mean little these days, a lot of ships are given permission to sail to other ports, in other other countries for maintenance to be carried out...who knows if it is.? The MCA can only inspect a minute percentage of ships in our ports.

I'm sure the company will herald the safety and record of the ship as being "one of the finest on the oceans", but like you rightly won't bring the crew back. May also bring their the company's compensation and liability payments down too.


non descript
11th May 2006, 17:27
Whilst 20 or even 25 years is not a problem for a well maintained ship of small dimensions, where the lightweight to deadweight is a decent ratio; but to expect a 170,000 tdw bulker to remain in quality condition after 17 years of tough cargo service is frankly asking too much, given the huge stresses that are involved in the working life of these ships hauling iron ore across the oceans.

That is why 15 years is reagrded as "overage".


non descript
9th June 2006, 16:49
The newspaper "Tradewinds" reported:

Crew reveals delay in escape

Investigators have discovered that the Alexandros T had at least a seven-hour warning in the sinking that claimed the lives of 26 seafarers.

An investigation has revealed that the crew of the ill-fated 171,000-dwt bulker Alexandros T (built 1989) were aware of serious problems with the ship many hours before it sank off South Africa, claiming 26 lives.

A spokesman for the St Vincent&Grenadines register tells TradeWinds that the seven survivors indicate that the first signs of water ingress were detected at 08:00 hours on the port side of the double-bottom No8 hold. Subsequent water ingress was then discovered in the No6 hold in the early afternoon and later in the No5, No7 and No9 holds before the ship sank at 15:47 hours on 4 May.

The account given by the survivors in the investigation raises serious questions over whether more lives could have been saved in the sinking. Current guidelines for bulkers with high-density cargoes urge masters to prepare to abandon ship at the first sign of water ingress.

Whilst we should of course always be wary of "reports" as the facts can be very different - but certainly this story shows the casualty in an unfortunate light.


jack 406
5th September 2006, 20:06
any info re cause of water ingress?

5th September 2006, 20:57
I could be wrong, but I would guess cracking of the hull, possibly due to long term flexing in a seaway and thus metal fatigue. ( Old Age )


30th June 2009, 12:12
Hope I am in the right place!!!!!
One of my amigos died there. Captain called him midship to assess the situation and if any solution viable. When they reached midship, vessel broke. And Tavi was gone. Simply as that, no time to say any pray...
Was myself onboard as a third engineer in 1993
Understood they have steering problem. Coast Guard offered assistance which was refused by captain. Vessel being under waves will(usually, in such situation, transverse to the waves) eventually broke. And simply they were gone. No more Tavi. One empty seat at their table.
Tavi was there...

non descript
30th June 2009, 12:18
Sirbuvio, on the occasion of your fist posting, a warm welcome to you, although I am sorry the connections that bring you here are unhappy ones. Please do enjoy what we have here and we look forward to you future postings.

4th November 2012, 18:27
Hope I am in the right place!!!!!
One of my amigos died there. Captain called him midship to assess the situation and if any solution viable. When they reached midship, vessel broke. And Tavi was gone. Simply as that, no time to say any pray...
Was myself onboard as a third engineer in 1993
Understood they have steering problem. Coast Guard offered assistance which was refused by captain. Vessel being under waves will(usually, in such situation, transverse to the waves) eventually broke. And simply they were gone. No more Tavi. One empty seat at their table.
Tavi was there...

Sirbuvio i heard that the company Overseas Marine was guilty for the loss of our colleges!!!Alexandros T had many structural problems and damages!!!The company knew the difficiences and done nothing about it!!!None can blaim the Captain who lost his life!!!