Катастрфа Альтобии

Олег Грановский

Команда форума
21.12.90 в полночь в хайфском заливе затонул паром "Альтобия" компании "hа-Оген". На его борту находились 102 моряка 6-го флота США с авианосца "Саратога". Из них 21 утонули и 47 получили ранения.

Известны ли подробности случившегося - в чём причина катастрофы и т.п.?
Известна такая подробность (достоверность на уровне ОТС, но чем богаты...) Часть моряков была в наручниках. Побушевали в каком-то пабе на Кармеле, после чего были арестованы. На авианосец ехали под конвоем американской военной полиции. Поэтому многие и утонули - в наручниках не поплаваешь.


Лучезарный колёс
DAVID RUDGE. Jerusalem Post. Jerusalem: Dec 23, 1990. pg. 01

A welcome shore leave after four months at sea ended in tragedy for scores of American sailors being ferried back to the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga from the Haifa port late Friday night.

Disaster struck around midnight when the Israeli-owned launch Al Tuvia was waiting just 30 meters from the carrier while sailors aboard another, larger, ferry disembarked onto the ship.

Suddenly, for reasons still not clear, the smaller craft capsized.

Shocked crew members aboard the Saratoga watched in horror as dozens of their comrades were hurled into the cold winter waters of the Mediterranean, over one nautical mile from shore.

In the space of 15 - 20 seconds, the Al Tuvia sank, taking with it many more sailors who had been trapped on the lower deck.

"More and more water came aboard and then, all of a sudden, tons of water rushed in. The boat started sinking and there was panic," said one of the survivors. "Everybody started trying to get out through the windows. There were five or ten people trying to crawl out through one tiny window.

"I made it, thank God, but when I looked up all I could see was dark water above me. I paddled my way up and grabbed onto the somebody's leg and he pulled me up," the young sailor told reporters as he recuperated at Haifa's Rambam Hospital.

The skipper and crew of the larger ferry, the Carmelit, watched helplessly as the Al Tuvia began to ship water and suddenly "turned turtle." The Carmelit's skipper radioed an SOS to the harbor and immediately began searching for survivors.

One of the rescued American sailors swam underneath the overturned Al Tuvia to reach the surface, where he and another sailor clung to a life-raft and waited to be picked up.

"The first (rescue) boat went straight over our float, but after that he came back and took us ashore," he said.

"I thought I was going to die," said another survivor after receiving treatment, warm drinks and clothing at Rambam. He said he had spent nearly an hour in the water, waiting and hoping to be rescued.

Within nine minutes of the alarm being raised, the Israel Navy, Air Force, harbor authorities and emergency services swung into action, aided by helicopters and rescue boats from the Saratoga.

An IAF plane flew dozens of sorties, dropping flares over the scene, lighting up the night sky.

Helicopters buzzed overhead, their searchlights stabbing the water as Israel Navy ships and rubber dinghies, coastal police boats and tugs from the Saratoga, crisscrossed the area.

Israel Navy commander Rear Admiral Micha Ram said that more than 500 Navy and Air Force personnel were involved in the rescue operations, as well as scores of police, harbor workers, volunteers and Magen David Adom workers.

Dozens of sailors were plucked from the water. Some were taken directly back to the Saratoga, although most were brought ashore where a fleet of MDA ambulances waited on the jetty to take them to Rambam, Rothschild and Carmel hospitals.

The ambulance crews worked tirelessly as boats continued to bring cold, soaked and shocked survivors to shore, as long as three hours after the disaster.

One of the last to come ashore was a young sailor, his sodden civilian clothes clinging to him. He gave the first inkling as to the possbile cause of the tragedy.

"There were too many people crammed into the stern on the starboard side, where they were waiting to get off," he said, his teeth chattering despite being wrapped in a blanket.

"The boat started taking water and it didn't stop. Then she suddenly capsized. I'd been on top and I was one of the first thrown into the water," he added.

He was also one of the last to be rescued, despite the efforts which continued throughout the long night and into the morning.

Two bodies were recovered from the water during the night. Seventeen more were brought up by Israeli Navy divers from inside the wreck and from the immediate vicinity of the sinking.

The divers, who began their gruesome task at first light, found at least six of the bodies still inside the cabin of the wrecked boat, which was lying on the seabed, some 20 meters below the surface.

Eigty-one of the 100 U.S. sailors who had been aboard the Al Tuvia were rescued, in addition to the boat's Israeli skipper Yossi Shohad and his Israeli crewman.

"I've no doubt the casualty rate would have been much, much higher, had it not been for the swift and efficient response of the Israel Navy, Air Force and emergency services," said Benny Fuchs, manager of the passenger terminal at the Haifa port.

The Israel Navy officers operated in close coordination with their U.S. counterparts, constantly relaying messages to one another.

Helicopters from the Saratoga and many small U.S. craft played a prominent role in the search and rescue operations.

On shore, U.S. Navy officers had the task of trying to account for all the sailors who had been ashore, as well as registering the names of all the survivors.

Their task was complicated by the fact that over 1,000 sailors returned to the port from their night on the town while the rescue operations were still in progress.

Deputy Commander Shlomo Shamir, head of the Haifa port police, said they had received first word of the disaster at 12:15 a.m.

"We immediately organized our operations on shore, with the coastal police and in coordination with Haifa police, Navy, Air Force, the port authorities and emergency services to conduct searches and rescue survivors," he told reporters.

"Simultaneously with the sea searches, police patrolled beaches around the Haifa bay in case any survivors might be washed ashore."

The rescue operations could be clearly seen from the lookout tower at the Haifa port, where Menashe Halfon was on duty. He was the first person to receive the SOS.

Halfon estimated the windstrength at 15 - 18 knots, normal for this time of year.

Several of the sailors who had been involved in the ferry operations that night said they had warned the U.S. Navy officials against going out because of the heavy seas.

Al Tuvia skipper Shohad reportedly decided to take no risks and had only allowed 100 sailors on board, instead of the 132 passengers the ferry was legally permitted to carry.

Colleagues, who described Shohad as a veteran and highly responsible seaman, said he had acted correctly.

He told police and harbor officials that the boat had started taking water astern, and then a big wave hit her and she turned turtle and sank in seconds.

Port officials noted that the Al Tuvia, owned by the Ogen company, a subsidiary of Solel Boneh, had been in service since around 1976 and was "in good shape."

Copyright Seattle Times Dec 24, 1990

HAIFA, Israel - Divers today abandoned the search for the last of 21 men who drowned in the sinking of a ferry carrying servicemen on shore leave back to the aircraft carrier Saratoga.

The U.S. Embassy said it was assumed the body would eventually wash ashore. The missing man was identified as Aviation Ordinanceman 3rd Class Anthony J. Fleming, 25, of Buffalo, N.Y.

An airman from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington state, Gilbert A. Fontaine, 22, a native of Spring Valley, N.Y., was one of the 21 lost.

Ferry service to the Saratoga was suspended after the only available ferry snarled its propeller in a cable early today, the embassy said.

With only a limited number of helicopters available for shuttle service, many of the Saratoga's crew who had gone on shore leave were to spend Christmas on land instead of returning to the carrier.

Crewmen bade a tearful farewell to their 21 comrades at a service yesterday aboard the Saratoga. The dead were symbolized by rows of sailors' caps and a petty officer's hat on a table.

``There are no words that can express the heartfelt sorrow of this entire 5,000-man ship,'' said the skipper, Capt. Joseph Mobley.

Among the 1,200 mourners were many of the 81 survivors of the chartered Israeli ferry Tuvia, which capsized and sank Saturday as it carried 102 Saratoga crewmen back from shore leave.

Mobley told reporters that the Navy concluded with ``utmost confidence'' that Fleming had died. ``He was definitely on the ferry at the time of the accident; he was definitely not rescued,'' he said.

Nineteen bodies were recovered Saturday, including six pulled by Israeli divers from the sunken two-deck ferry. Another body was found yesterday.

At the memorial service in one of the Saratoga's huge hangars, men wiped away tears as a choir sang ``America the Beautiful'' and the Navy hymn ``Eternal Father.''

Two sailors dropped a wreath into the Mediterranean in honor of the victims, and a detachment of seven Marines fired a 21-gun salute in three rifle salvos.

The Saratoga and its escort ships had come from the Red Sea where they joined in the naval buildup in the Persian Gulf.

Survivors said water was washing into the 57-foot ferry from waves when it was swamped by two huge swells about 200 yards from the Saratoga. Israeli officials said too many men were in the back of the craft.


Credit: AP
DAVID RUDGE, Jerusalem Post Reporter. Jerusalem Post. Jerusalem: Dec 27, 1990. pg. 02

HAIFA - The ill-fated ferry Al Tuvia which capsized and sank last Friday night killing 21 American sailors was raised from the bottom of the Haifa Bay yesterday.

The red-painted craft, its blue awning hanging in tatters, broke the surface bows first after being lifted up by the floating crane Manof David.

The Al Tuvia had been lying hull down on the seabed, more than 20 meters below the surface. The salvage work began in the morning, but it wasn't till late afternoon that the boat was raised because of delays in positioning the crane over the wreck.

Divers went down, attached cables to the ferry and just 40 minutes later it was raised to the surface.

The salvage operation was closely monitored by members of the inquiry commission appointed by the Transport Ministry's shipping division to investigate the cause of the disaster.

Ogen, the subsidiary of Solel Boneh that owns the Al Tuvia, was involved in the salvage efforts.

Scores of people watched the work from the shore and Mount Carmel, as well as sailors aboard the aircraft carrier the USS Saratoga anchored nearby.

The Al Tuvia, which had been ferrying 102 U.S. sailors back to the Saratoga, sank after midnight just 30 meters from the carrier. Twenty bodies were recovered and one sailor was posted missing, presumed dead.

The boat's skipper, Yossi Shohat, who survived the disaster with his sole crewmate, went out to the scene in a motor launch and helped collect the lifebelts that came to the surface with the ferry.

The inquiry commission is expected to make a thorough inspection of the ferry and its systems for any signs of damage or breakdown. Its findings are unlikely to be ready before the Saratoga is due to set sail later today for the Red Sea.

The U.S. Navy and the police are also investigating the cause of the tragedy in cooperation with the shipping division.
DAVID RUDGE, Jerusalem Post Reporter. Jerusalem Post. Jerusalem: Dec 28, 1990. pg. 20

HAIFA - The Transport Ministry committee investigating the cause of last Friday's ferryboat disaster in Haifa Bay, which claimed the lives of 21 U.S. sailors, is expected to complete its work by early next week, The Jerusalem Post was told yesterday.

The head of the ministry's shipping division, Shabtai Levy, said the committee was working nearly round the clock.

The ferry Al Tuvia was raised late on Wednesday afternoon from where it has been lying in more than 20 metres of water. It was towed by floating crane to the port.

A 24-hour guard has been placed on the boat as a precautionary measure.

Investigators yesterday began the detailed task of examining the ferry, item by item, from the state of the hull and structure of the vessel generally, to the bilge, the pumping system and the steering mechanism.

Levy said that nothing would be overlooked.

The committee had hoped to complete its work by yesterday, prior to the departure of the aircraft carrier, the USS Saratoga. But salvage work was delayed by search and rescue operations and the stormy seas that prevailed in the bay until Wednesday.

The Al Tuvia was ferrying 102 sailors to the Saratoga when it capsized and sank, just 30 meters from the carrier, shortly after midnight last Friday.

At the time, it was reported that a crowd of sailors had gathered in the aft of the boat, prior to disembarking. The boat had started to take water in the stern and had then been hit by a wave which flipped it over.

Well-informed shipping sources said that the U.S. Navy, which is conducting its own inquiry, had asked for and received all the documents relating to the ferry, as well as evidence from eye witnesses.

The police are also investigating the incident.

The boat, owned by the Ogen company, a subsidiary of Solel Boneh, was chartered by the U.S. Navy for ferrying sailors to and from the Saratoga which, because of its draught, could not enter the port and was anchored a nautical mile offshore.
YIGAL KOTZER. Jerusalem Post. Jerusalem: Apr 30, 1991. pg. 12

The Shipping and Ports Administration has concluded the first of three investigations into the ferry sinking in which two sailors died four months ago.

An investigatory commission appointed by the administration concluded that water penetrated the stern of the ferry Altuvia, which capsized and sank in the port as it carried 100 U.S. sailors back to the USS Saratoga aircraft carrier from shore leave.

The police and the U.S. fleet are also investigating.
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