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Report of the Master of vessel “SANTA MARINA”

Captain Spyridon Messinezos

20/10/1974 — Position Latitude 41° 58’ N - Longitude 07° 21’ E

It is 4 p.m. We note a heavy damage to the rudder. The ship does not steer anymore and suddenly the sea seems to intensify its force. - Big billows break on “Santa Marjna” that is falling, with heeling that starts to trouble us seriously.

We try to repair the damage. - We try but all our attempts were useless. — The night is coming and fearing the worse we launched the S.O.S.

Porto Torres Radio intercepts our signal and they answer us that owing to the bad weather increasing, only one tug is able to come to save us: the “Vincente”. - After few hours, the weather becomes worse. At the moment of the average we had registered rough sea force 5/6 but now the situation is different. The part of the sea where we are now is a mess. The ship is falling towards shore and all on board of “Santa Marina” are asking to themselves if there is someone and above all  able to dare the sea. A strong wind grants abbrivo that is falling not less than 4 miles per hour. The situation is now drammatic, unsustainable. We intercept a demoralizing news: the “Canguro”, 7.000 tons, had to shelter in Corsica. We try to give courage each other praying God and our good destiny. Our calculations are not approxximately but exact: in the middle of such a rough sea never seen  like this, with the ship weaponless, with all of us impotent to make any operation, the only solution we see is to finish smashed against the reefs. We make considerations and valuations. Just so: if some one does not dare this bad weather is the end for us. The time of the truth for us, as an ultimatum to our existence, could expire at 08.30 tomorrow morning.

21/10/1974 daylight, near 6 a.m., our eyes can see with terror, big billows, like mountains of water against us. Sea is now force 10 from West according to the Marseille weather Report and this news demoralize us completely. As a Captain of a ship i think that none is so foolish and incoscient to venture himself in this terrible storm to save us. I put myself in the place of the succourer and I must admit that there is someone coming to save us not only risks his incolumity, that is his life and the one of  the other men, but has also few possibilities to approach us in order to make the necessary manoeuvre to hook us. I continue to pray for my men and for me but i am sure that our destiny is marked.

At 8 a.m. a crew member says to have seen something. We search the infinite, but we do not know where to look because high waves as mountains are as gigantics walls around us? A gleam and in distance the mast of a ship that disappear to our eyes as swallowed by the sea.

Now and then we see the Asinara Island approaching our ship. This do not rejoice us because this island could represent our grave. We ask ourselves without any hope if someone of us has really seen a mast. Nobody is persuaded and the idea of a mirage wedge in our minds. The drammaticity of the moment is exasperated by a news intercepted by us, a big tug has loosen a  lighter with two men on board and the succour is concentrated in saving these two men. It is our intention to close the radio to do not hear things that touch us in lontanance that give the last stroke to our inexistent morale. Whilst the ship continues in her foolish run against the Asinara reefs we see a tug that tries to reach us with big difficulties. Our heart swell pf joy but we know that it is not finished. We see the tug now on top and now on low, lifted and sunked in the waves. We think it cannot  reach us. We pray that it can reach us because, otherwise, this Is really the end. The tug manoeuvres making us shudder. We do not know if the men on board the tug are angels or devils. It is enough a wrong manoeuvre and is the end for both of us, for the tug and for us. Whilst the tug goes up again on the wave crest and our ship is sunking in the empty created by another one that has preceded it, from the tug they launch us a rope’s end. The ability of the tug seamen like surprise us very much. As them and more of them we know that they are working on the edge of the blade of the death. We think that the hook is all right but the rope’s end after a rebound due to a wave, goes broken. And so they attempt again to hook us with other 3 rope’s end consecutives that goes broken. We see the tug now after and now forward. It is like a dance macabre in the most unimaginable positions. Finally another rope’s end seems that it will keep, is put in taut. We all are praying, we think also the men in the tug are praying because it is the most delicate moment of our salvage: it is enough a list to finish overturned. The rope’s end resists and “Santa Marina” starts to take the direction wanted by the Captain of the tug. Sinister, the waves broke at an half mile from the Asinara Istand reefs, where we should have finished if the tug could not have hook us.

In that moment we have understood to be returned to life again, and to have passed from death to  life, for the skillness, courage end generosity of barve men. I wish for the Captains called to live drammatic and longest moments lived by us, to find always on their way men like the ones of the tug “Vincente” and his Captain, Giovanni Camedda, that cannot be equalled.

When we arrived ashore our tears, our brotherly embrace, as used between natural, full of affection of great ardour and human solidarity. This journal wants only explain what happened on that terrible moments between October 2Oth and 21st. It is nothing in comparison to what our eyes have seen.

We hope that this explanation with serve as a just and right acknowledge to the ones who have saved our lives.


                                                                  Master of vessel “SANTA MARINA”

     Spiros Messinezos


La storia del Santa Marina





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