History Post: The Journey of MTS Oceanos, the Day the Cruise Ship Went Down

History Post: The Journey of MTS Oceanos, the Day the Cruise Ship Went Down

  • MTS Oceanos was one of the most tragic accidents that ever happened in the sea but there are endless stories regarding the cause of it
  • Oceanos was built in France but owned by a Greek cruise company and it sank in Mzansi en route to Durban from East London back in August 1991
  • According to the probe after the sinking, the captain and his crew were convicted of negligence after abandoning the vessel

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The World witnessed an ugly scene back on 03 August 1991 when MTS Oceanos sunk in 1991 because of uncontrolled floods. The ship was built in France and owned by a Greek cruise ship company.

Oceanos is one of the documented tragedies ever to happen in the sea and following a probe by maritime authorities, the captain and his crew were found to have been negligent. Briefly News takes a look at a history piece on the MTS Oceanos cruise ship.

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Background information about MTS Oceanos

The ship was launched in 1952 by Forges et Chartiers de la Gironde in France and it was solely used on the Marseilles, Madagascar and Mauritius routes.

When it sank in 1991, the skipper and some of the crew members were convicted of negligence after abandoning the vessel without helping the passengers, who were rescued thanks to the efforts of the ship's entertainers.

History, Journey, MTS Oceanos, Day, Vessel, Down
Briefly News looks at the sinking of the MTS OCeanos in South Africa. Image: @Wikipedia
Source: UGC

According to Wikipedia, on 3 August 1991, Oceanos was initially delayed due to a bomb threat as it was expected to set out from East London, South Africa en route to Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.

The captain, Yiannis Avranas, had been an officer for 20 years and a seasoned seaman. It sadly sank due to the rough seas and when the storm worsened as the evening progressed, it is reported that the waiters could hardly carry the trays of food without dropping something.

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Eventually, the Oceanos was rolling about from side to side so badly that crockery and cutlery began sliding off the tables and potted plants fell over. It is also mentioned that after a series of freak waves that slammed against the ship, the pipe's shell plating burst open and began filling the compartment with seawater.

Although it is reported that no passengers were seriously injured, the crew and the captain came under heavy criticism for leaving hundreds of passengers behind with no one other than the ship's entertainers to help them evacuate.

Is the MTS Oceanos the greatest maritime rescue ever?

Bowmans has it that it remains a mystery as to what led to the sinking of the vessel despite the watertight doors having being closed after the initial leak. However, a probe indicated that at the time when the water came flooding into the auxiliary engine room, the crew had been working on a valve on the sewage system.

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The publication has it that following the sinking, many aircrew and divers were given bravery awards. If it was not for the brave heroes and the selfless response of the ship staff who came to the rescue, almost certainly hundreds of lives would have been lost.

Maritime lawyer Andrew Pike documents the sinking of MTS Oceanos

The veteran lawyer had incredible insight into the 1991 sinking of the Oceanos and wrote a book to detail the events.

Pike wrote his book, Against All Odds, the Story of Oceanos Rescue and according to IOL, he said he witnessed people vomiting on each other as the ship sank.

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It is mentioned that Pike spent about 15 months trying to locate survivors, filling in gaps in his knowledge, and also spoke to Slade Thomas, a helicopter pilot from the Air Force’s 15 Squadron.

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He said:

“I didn’t want it to be a history book, or something too technical or too legal. I wanted to tell the story. It’s one that is too good not to be told. It was something in my mind that always troubled me; I wanted to know more about what it was like in the lifeboats. The more I found out, the more I was horrified. For eight or nine hours people were vomiting on each other. There was a very thin line between life and death.”

History check: Meet Hamilton Naki, a respected lab technician in apartheid South Africa

In a related story, Briefly News reported that following a number of reports speculating on the role Hamilton Naki played during the first heart transplant that was conducted in South Africa in 1967 at Grotte Schuur Hospital, Briefly News brings you a history piece on this man.

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Naki was born in the rural part of the Eastern Cape now known as Idutywa back in 1926. Because he was yearning for greener pastures, he moved to Cape Town and settled down with his family in Langa township.

According to the Wikipedia page, Naki commuted from Langa township to work at the University of Cape Town as a gardener. He specifically focused on ensuring the tennis courts were well manicured.

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Source: Briefly News

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