‘Negligence’ sank cruise liner

The sinking of the Sea Diamond cruise liner, which was shipwrecked off the Cycladic island of Santorini in April 2007 after hitting a reef, was caused by negligence, according to the findings of a Merchant Marine Ministry investigative council announced yesterday. In its report, the Investigative Council for Accidents at Sea said the sinking of the vessel, owned by Louis Cruise Lines, was caused by the negligence of its captain, Ioannis Marinos, its first engineer, Emmanuel Patsos, and three employees of the ship’s operator, Core Marine Ltd. The council, made up of coast guard officers, said that as the Sea Diamond was approaching the harbor of Santorini, it sailed very close to the rocky shore «with serious and clear danger for its safety» and did not follow the course approved by the captain. Citing testimony given by the chief of the coast guard on the island, the report said the course followed by the cruise liner – prior to hitting a reef – had not been followed by any other vessel in the past. Louis Cruise Lines has firmly rejected any responsibility for the sinking, maintaining that the course followed by the Sea Diamond had been perfectly safe according to the official chart in use at the time. The company’s claims, originally rejected by the Hellenic Navy, were subsequently confirmed by a hydrographic survey conducted by the navy’s own Hydrographic Office. While the investigative council’s report notes that the map used by the captain did indeed contain errors, it also points out that the ship’s depth gauge was not working and therefore failed to alert the officers on the bridge of the shallower depth and impending danger.