C14/1997M Sand Barge ms GRETA, Grounding near Suur-Pellinki on 18.11.1997
Ms Greta, a 304 BRT cargo vessel, with a cargo of stones was on 18th of November 1997 on her way from Porvoo to Helsinki in the southern archipelago of Finland. When the vessel passed a north-south buoy gate using the 3.5 metre-draught fairway near the island of Suurpellinki, it had a heavy grounding. The grounding initiated a 90 degree turn to starboard and the vessel got loose to deeper water.
A survey carried out by the vessel’s skipper showed that the bow of the vessel was sinking and that the water level was rising in the forward compartment. The vessel was sinking. GRETA was turned to the direction of approach and it was steered with full power to the northern tip of the Suurpellinki. The bow of the vessel had already sank considerably and it was rammed into a sandy beach. During the trip from the place of the grounding help was called by VHF channel 16 from the coast guard, but the call was not succesfull. Using channel 13 the pilot station at nearby Emäsalo was contacted. The coast guard and the fire station were alerted from the pilot station with the effect that rescue boats were embarked from both locations. A fisherman was first to arrive to the wrecked vessel. The work boat from the fire station arrived next and the coast guard boat last.
When the stern of GRETA sank further, the vessel also heeled slightly. The machinery room was dry until water started to flow inside through the skylet. Before this the main engine and other machinery was stopped. Just before the vessel sank the master and the deckhand went into the lifeboat. After this they tied the vessel’s bow to the shore. GRETA sank so that the uppermost part of the reeling in the bow and the radar mast on the wheelhouse remained over the water level. The time from the grounding to the sinking of GRETA was about 30 minutes.
A diver from the Finnish Maritime Administration surveyed later the bottom at the area of the grounding. He found a large stone with marks from the grounding of GRETA. The stone was in the fairway area to the south of the south buoy.
The Finnish Maritime Administration organised the raising of the vessel as well as the subsequent fitting to seaworthy condition for towing to Olkiluoto Yard for repair.
Swift decision making and action to beach the vessel as well as the watertightness of the bulkhead between the cargo hold and the machinery room were the decisive factors to the succesfull rescue of the vessel to shallow water.