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Mystery of disappeared crew on sunk ship carrying gold ore

By The Siberian Times reporter
20 November 2012

After three weeks, the authorities are at a loss to explain what happened to eight out of nine members of the wrecked Amurskaya vessel.

Intensive air and sea searches, as well as a painstaking underwater search of the Amurskaya, have failed to locate the missing eight sailors. Picture: Lev Fedoseev, vmdaily.ru

The ship went down in storms in the Sea of Okhotsk on October 28, after leaving port overloaded with a controversial cargo of gold ore.

Officials say the vessel's loading procedures and the weight of the cargo both flouted regulations, while the ship should also not have sailed in such treacherous conditions. 

One as yet unidentified body was found entrapped in a cabin on the wreck - 25 metres underwater - on November 9. 

But the rest of the crew is missing.

Intensive air and sea searches, as well as a painstaking underwater search of the Amurskaya, have failed to locate the missing eight sailors or establish any clues as to their fate. Further dives are expected subject to difficult weather conditions in the area.

m/v Amurskaya


m/v Amurskaya

An elderly mother of an Amurskaya sailor returns home after meeting other distraught family members of the lost crew.  The ship disappeared in the vicinity of Shantar Island in the Sea of Okhotsk. Pictures:KP Vladivostok, Mikhail Voytenko, editor of Maritime Bulletin 

Seaches have focused on  Belichy Island - part of the Shanter archipelago - where evidence of a possible life raft was spotted by a BE-200 plane.

The Amurskaya's life rafts appear to have been used by the crew as the vessel sunk, yet the fate of the men remains unclear. 

The freighter Amurskaya left the port of Kiran, in the Tugur-Chumikan district of the Khabarovsk Territory. The vessel was to deliver gold-containing ore to the port of Okhotsk, but it sank near the Shantar Islands in a severe storm. 

Officials say the cargo ship was overloaded by as much as 100 tonnes.  A criminal case has been launched, and the port director arrested. 

'The investigation has obtained information that the ore loading on the freighter was carried out by the drying (high tide-low tide) method, which could have caused, in the view of the investigation, the vessel's body deformation', said the Russian Far East Transport Investigation Department. 

Meanwhile, distraught relatives can only wait for news of what happened to their loved-ones.

Comments (1)

Its been ages since they've disappeared... and almost radio silence about the families of the missing sailors. Why is that?
I. , Slovakia
20/11/2012 22:19
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