6 Years Later: Verdict in Deadly Sinking of Sea Diamond Cruise Ship

Long before Captain Schettino smashed the Costa Concordia into the rocks off of the coast of Giglio, another captain of a passenger cruise ship slammed his vessel into the rock and sank the ship.

Six years ago, the Sea Diamond cruise ship struck a reef and eventually sank off the coast of Santoniri. Two French cruise passengers drown. 

In both cases, the captain's poor navigational skills, recklessness and negligence in efficiently evacuating the cruise ship killed passengers.

Sea Diamond SinkingAfter a long legal proceeding, a  three judge panel in Piraeus sentenced the ship's captain to 12 years and two months in jail and sanctioned him €8,000 fine.  The judges sentenced an employee of DNV (Det Norske Veritas), which deemed the cruise ship seaworthy, to eight years.

The cruise ship, owned by Louis Hellenic Cruises, sank on April 6 2007 after ramming  a reef near the Aegean island of Santorini with 1,195 passengers and 391 crew on board.

A French man, Jean Christophe Allain (age 45) and his daughter Maud (age 16), died. 

According to a Greek newspaper, the judges also sentenced the navigation officer (two years and 10 months), chief engineer (two years and four months), company's legal representative (two years), an inspector/auditor (15 months) and a security officer (six months and a €600 fine).

The newspaper states that it is unlikely that anyone will serve actual jail time.

The judges acquitted the ship's first engineer officer, chief officer, chief steward and the cabin manager. 

After the verdict, Louis Hellenic vowed to appeal the decisions. 

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Clinton Gomes - August 1, 2013 12:02 PM

Yeah ! its true the Master was a Staff captain a year before on the same vessel and I was on the tender boat of another vessel headed towards the shore, when we saw the ship zipping passed us totally listing to starboard with its port hull elevated from the sea level !!

Charles mathias - August 2, 2013 11:43 AM

This ship was built in 1986 as the "Birka Princess" for ferry service. A major refit was done in 2006 to convert it to a cruise ship the "Sea Diamond" Such a short life and sad ending.

Kalle Id - August 3, 2013 3:03 AM

I'm not sure if the Captain's poor navigation skills entirely enter the picture in this particular case (I cannot say for certain, of course, as I have no access to the Greek court's findings in this case). According to studies made after the sinking of the SEA DIAMOND, a part of the fault in the ship's sinking lay in incorrect navigational charts of the area issued by the Hellenic Hydrographic Office. The charts showed the reef which the SEA DIAMOND hit to be at a distance of 57 meters (187 feet) from the shore, when in fact it is 131 meters (429 feet) from the shore.

I would also like to correct Charles Mathias' comment above: The BIRKA PRINCESS was built with a token car deck, but she was used on cruise service from the beginning of her career. The car deck was removed by 1999 at latest (possibly earlier, I cannot find the exact data right now), so she was a cruise ship long before sold to Louis Cruises in 2006.

Stir Fry - March 5, 2014 8:03 PM

The captain was found guilty after a six year trial.

As far as blaming the nav maps, wouldn't more vessels have run aground? Even I can see that it was very close to shore and would think that reef should cause anxiety. Was this another island cruise for publicity?

Also, according to Cruise News, New Twist in Sea Diamond sinking dated Nov 2, 2007 at URL http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=2249

"Lois wants the Greek state to carry out its own research to confirm its findings in the hope that said fine will be lifted.

However, the Hellenic Navy's Hydrographic Service has already rejected Louis' claim.

An official speaking anonymously told Reuters that "there may be some changes to the seabed or small margins of error but these maps are accepted by all international bodies. It was the captain's responsibility to be careful."

"In particular, Louis' recent survey shows that the reef stretches for 130 meters from the shore, whereas the existing nautical map, issued by the Hellenic Navy's Hydrographic Service, showed the reef stretching only for 60 meters. Also, the official chart shows the depth of the water at the area of impact varying from 18 to 22 meters, while the new survey shows that it is only five meters. Based on the official nautical chart, the vessel would have been on a safe course while approaching Santorini."

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