One seaman drowned when a small freighter struck a rock and sank before dawn yesterday on one of Greece’s most frequently traveled waterways. The Greek Avantis III, which had just exited the Corinth Canal and was heading for Cyprus, sank within a few minutes of hitting the submerged rock close to the islet of Angistri near Aegina, some 19 nautical miles from Piraeus, the country’s largest port. The accident occurred around 3.45 a.m, in fine weather conditions. Out of the 79-meter ship’s 12 officers and crew, 11 managed to abandon ship by diving into the water, and climbed into a small lifeboat. However, 35-year-old ship’s cook Vassilis Koronis, who had only joined the crew last Saturday, was trapped in his bunk and drowned. The ship went down so quickly that none of the crew members had time to send out a distress signal. Search-and-rescue authorities were only notified of the shipwreck when the ship’s captain, Sotiris Bissios, 35, called Merchant Marine Ministry officials on his mobile phone from the lifeboat. A large sea-and-air search-and-rescue operation was immediately launched around the Doroussa rock, off the southwestern tip of Angistri – an increasingly favorite weekend destination for Athenians. The 11 survivors were taken to Aegina for first aid, but none required further treatment. Captain Bissios was arrested, together with Second Mate Magdalini Mandzou, 40, and seaman Giorgos Spanos, 32 – who were on bridge duty when the motorship struck. The 27-year-old vessel had sailed from Corfu, and stopped at Mesolongi in central Greece to take on a cargo of tiles and other building material destined for Cyprus.